Harlan “Bud” Bonham
Harlan Duane Bonham was born in Freeport, Kansas on February 10, 1925 to Lawrence and Alma Brinkman Bonham. He was always known as “Bud”. He grew up knowing hard work, solid values and simple pleasures. At an early age he helped his Grandfather and Uncle Walt with their wheat fields. Bud loved farming and worked 13-hour days in the field along side his Uncle Walt. He had an uncanny ability to repair and maintain farm equipment. This led to a lifelong passion for engine maintenance. Cars, fire engines, tractors, lawnmowers and chainsaws were common visitors to his shop.
When Bud was about 14, two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on their door. As a result, his mother and sister (Darlene) joined the church. Darlene later married one of the missionaries and moved to Utah.
In 1941 Bud’s life took a dramatic shift. Due to several circumstances, his family moved to Salt Lake City. He attended West High School and made it known he did not enjoy it at all! Pearl Harbor was bombed that year and Bud turned 18 shortly after that. While he was waiting to hear from the War Department, he took a job at Remington Arms. He used his wages to pay for flying lessons. Then he received word he had a “farming deferment” so back to Kansas he went. This one-year deferment was the hardest he’d ever worked. 14-hour days, 7 days a week.
After he turned 19 he was immediately inducted into the Army. He began boot camp to be trained as an infantry/rifleman. One day a Kansas farm boy, the next, a soldier. After 27 days on the ocean, he arrived in the Philippines where he obeyed orders for 26 months. Those months would haunt and torture him the rest of his life. Not only contracting malaria, hepatitis, dengue fever and suffering shrapnel wounds, but also some wounds that would never heal.
When he returned to Salt Lake, he met the woman he would fall in love with. He married Gloria Glade in 1948. They just celebrated 72 years of marriage. Together they had 5 children. In August 1963, Bud took Gloria and their children to the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed for time and eternity.
By 1949, Bud had a family to take care of and took it on with full force. He drove cab, worked in a gas station, was a land surveyor and made money wherever he could. In1950 he heard the Salt Lake City Fire Department was hiring. It’s a much longer story, but he was hired. Life as a firefighter was a total lifestyle. He made lasting and intense friendships, experienced trauma and sadness as well as the joy of saving people’s lives and possessions. He was even on scene for the United Airlines crash of 1965. He was firefighter Labor Union President, he also served as the President of the Relief Association. Bud was very proud when his son, Barry, followed in his footsteps by joining the Fire Department and also becoming President of the Relief Association. A feat that has not been duplicated in the history of SLC Firefighters. Bud was a man of endless responsibility, deep conviction and insistence of that coming to pass.
After living in a tiny 2-bedroom home in the Glendale area for 11 years, he bought some land and with the help of his firefighter buddies, build a beautiful home. He and Gloria lived there until he retired from the department in 1982 and moved to Overton Nevada to help take care of his aging parents who were living there. As a retired couple, they bought a little travel trailer and began to travel.
Bud also had his 1974 International tractor with him. If you have lived in Overton for more than 3 years, you have seen him silhouetted by dust or a setting sun as he did tractor work for the community for 34 years. Next to Gloria, his tractor was his true love. There is not a field or spot of land that Bud has not plowed, scraped, mowed or dug.
In 1984 he was called to be the bishop of the Overton 3rd ward. He served for almost 4 years but a heart attack brought it to an end. He remained unwavering in his faith, working in the temple and answering the call of the Church. Dedicated to it forever.
Bud and Gloria continued to travel, even spending a summer in Alaska. They spent several vacations in his favorite place on earth….The Redwoods.
Bud and Gloria worked for six summers as camp hosts at Pine Valley. Even though they lived in their small trailer, those are beautiful memories for them. Then, their daughter, Kathy (Kass) and her husband, Brent, offered them their cabin near Oakley. They spent 10 amazing summers “caretaking” this beautiful place. They earned their keep by trimming trees, resurfacing decks, cleaning deadwood, painting and whatever they wanted….often to Brent and Kathy’s surprise!
He has cultivated deep and loyal friendships in Overton: all the guys at the “Old Fellows Club (OFC), the Lairds, the Brady’s, Lyle, and countless community members who he served well and later served him. He would often say, “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for any of them…and ya know… they for me!”
He is survived by his wife, Gloria; his sister, Darlene; his children: Lynette (Reed deceased), Kathy (Brent), Barry (Robbin), Laurie (Reed) and Heidi (Dave); 14 grandchildren and 26 great grandkids.
Bud Bonham IS a legend. He lived his greatest life and service was his credo. He is unforgettable in whatever way you experienced him. He called the shots, he did it his way, and now…..he’s home.
We all hope there is a tractor in heaven.
Services will be held at Moapa Valley Mortuary on Tuesday, June 30 2020, viewing at 6:00 pm, with the funeral services at 7:00 pm.
Additional services in Salt Lake on Thursday, July 2, 2020 at the Cottonwood Heights 2nd ward, 6890 Whitmore Way, Salt Lake City, UT. Viewing at 1:00 pm, services at 2:00 pm.
Interment will follow in the Memorial Redwood Cemetery, 6500 Redwood Road, Taylorsville, UT 84123.
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