William E. Bonie Jr., 51, Coast Guard veteran and artist

Posted: August 01, 2014

ON LABOR DAY 1998, William Bonie was shot in the back and paralyzed in a holdup in West Philadelphia.

He spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, a condition that might have discouraged a lesser man.

Not William Edward Bonie Jr.

"That never stopped him from doing what he wanted to do," his family said.

"He never had a negative word to say about anyone. He never complained."

William, a Coast Guard veteran and a man of many talents and strong opinions, died July 21 of cardiac arrest. He was 51 and lived in the Parkside section of West Philadelphia.

The thief who stole William's mobility got $36 in the robbery.

William was born in Richmond, Va., to William Edward Bonie and the former Martha Ann Woodley. He attended Maggie L. Walker High School.

He served in the Coast Guard from 1982 until his discharge in 1986.

William was a talented artist, said his sister, Beverly Bonie. "I always knew he was talented because he always used to draw when we were in our parents' home," she said.

"I saw some of his drawings and it just blew me away, they were just that deep."

William didn't let his handicap keep him from being a friend to everyone who needed a word of advice or a reassuring gesture. "He would help anyone if he could," said a niece, Stephanie Bonie-Alston.

"He had an infectious smile that would brighten up any room no matter what he was going through," his family said. "He smiled and laughed through it all.

"He was the peacemaker. He was a gentleman who loved the finer things in life, a historian, observer, philosopher and protector."

His family said William was "very unusual, and that was why people were drawn to him. He always had something intelligent and powerful to say."

He was fun-loving, enjoyed good music, loved to dress to the nines, cook up a storm and play chess.

"He was full of life," his family said, "and lived it to the fullest."

Besides his sister, he is survived by a daughter, Sienna Mya.

Services: 11 a.m. Monday at Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, 5620 Wyalusing Ave. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester.

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