After a long, fierce battle with cancer, Deborah (Debbie) Anne Bonkowski (nee Kendrick), went quietly into God’s loving arms on November 19, 2023.Her husband, Michael F. Bonkowski (Mike), and her step children, Sarah and Eric Bonkowski, were by her side. Debbie was sixty-nine.
Debbie was born in Pittsburgh PA on April 22, 1954, the first child of Joan and Earl Kendrick. Debbie’s pre-school years were spent in New Orleans, after which her family moved to Wilmington. Debbie attended Foulk Elementary School, Forwood Junior High, and Concord High School, from which she graduated in 1972.
Blessed with a lovely voice, Debbie frequently sang with the choir at Faith Presbyterian Church, among others. In December 1963, at the age of nine, she was a member of the Children’s Chorus which sang in the American Premier of Carl Orff’s “Ludus de nato Infante Mirificus,” performed at Christ Church.
While at Concord, Debbie enjoyed playing intramural field hockey and was a majorette in the Concord High School Marching Band. Debbie loved marching with the Band at the Concord football games and in the holiday parades held in Wilmington.
Upon graduating from Concord, Debbie worked as a dental assistant to Dr. Milton Isaacs before joining Richards Layton & Finger (R L & F) as a legal assistant in 1978.She left R L & F to move to Boston for two years and while there worked at the law firm of Peabody & Brown.Upon returning to Wilmington, Debbie worked at Prickett Jones Elliott Kristol & Schnee for nine years before returning to R L & F’s corporate department, where she worked until her retirement in 2018.Debbie’s career as a legal assistant spanned more than forty years, during which she forged great, lasting friendships with many of her co-workers, whom she cherished.
From her early years, Debbie loved animals of all kinds, especially her cats, dogs, and horses. As a young girl, she enjoyed riding hunt courses in Georgia with her beloved Uncle Bill. She took up horseback riding in earnest while in high school and competed in dressage, three day eventing and show jumping throughout much of her adult life. Over the years Debbie won many ribbons in equestrian competitions in DE and PA.
After marrying Mike in 1989, Debbie took up bicycling, fly fishing, and backpacking, all of which she and Mike enjoyed together. Debbie frequently cycled with her husband through the hills near their home. For sixteen years they rode together in the annual Multiple Sclerosis Delaware Bike to the Bay, with the Cyc-Os team which Debbie formed in 2005.Over the years, team Cyc-O raised nearly $200,000 for MS. Debbie also rode in the Amish Country Tour Ride in Dover and the CRAB (Come Ride Around the Bay) Ride in Bethany Beach.
Debbie enjoyed traveling, which allowed her to indulge her love of beaches, horses, and fly fishing. Debbie was a constant visitor to Sea Isle City and Ocean City, NJ, as well as Dewey Beach, Bethany and Fenwick Island, DE. She vacationed in Guadalupe, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, and annually with her family in Maine and on the Outer Banks. During frequent trips to the Rockies, Debbie honed her fly fishing skills, enjoyed horseback riding, and rafted the Snake and Bitterroot rivers. She took up kayaking on ponds in Maine. She hiked and camped in the backcountry of Yellowstone, the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, where she climbed above 9000 feet, and in north central Pennsylvania on the Black Forest Trail. Always proud, she carried her own backpack and gear. Debbie blossomed in the outdoors.
One of Debbie’s favorite vacations was to Ireland, where, in addition to loving the scenery, music and people, she quickly took up a new hobby, the hobby of Guinness.
Debbie’s family and friends were everything to her. She loved her husband dearly and was selfless in her devotion to him and her step children, Sarah and Eric, as she was to her mother and sisters, of whom she was fiercely protective.
Debbie is survived by her husband of thirty four years, Michael F. Bonkowski, her step children Sarah and Eric (Kathleen) and grandson Hank, her mother, Joan Kylen Anderson, and her sisters, Patricia Colletto (Charles) and Susan Kendrick (Graham Van Dixhorn), and their children and grandchildren, all whom she loved.She was predeceased by her step father Burton Anderson, and her father, Earl Kendrick.
Debbie lived generously and fought fiercely to the end.She will be missed, but her beautiful smile will stay with us forever.May she rest quietly in God’s loving arms.
A visitation will be held on Sunday, November 26 from 2-4 pm at the McCrery & Harra Funeral Home, 3924 Concord Pk., Wilmington, DE 19803. A funeral service will be held on Monday, November 27 at 11:30 am at Christ Church, 505 East Buck Road, Wilmington, DE 19807.Interment will follow at Lower Brandywine Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
Debbie believed strongly in supporting those in need - animals and people - and was a steadfast benefactor of numerous charities.In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Faithful Friends, The Delaware SPCA, Wounded Warriors, or Ryers Home for Aged Equines.
For online condolences visit: www.mccreryandharra.com