September 28, 1928 – October 2, 2021
Bonnie, age 93, went to her eternal home on Saturday due to natural causes. Memorial Service will at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin MO on October 23, 2021 at 11 a.m. Interment will be at the Fidelity Cemetery at a later date.
Bonnie was born to Charles “Charley” Levy and Dora Elizabeth Jane (Shields) (Nichols) in Quapaw, Oklahoma on September 28, 1928 as Bonnie “Lue”. At age 16, Bonnie unofficially changed the spelling of her middle name to “Lou” citing her mother wanted it to be short for Louise but didn’t know how to spell it. Bonnie graduated from Fairland Oklahoma High School in 1945. Bonnie married William E. Hankins on June 20, 1947, in Baxter Springs, Kansas. From this union, Bill and Bonnie had six children, Don, Connie, Pam, Dana, David, and Julie.
Bill and Bonnie and five of the children lived in Miami, Oklahoma on a family farm until they moved to Fidelity MO in May of 1963 and became the proprietors of Bill and Bonnie’s Grocery Store. In July 1963 the family welcomed the sixth child. The “store” was in operation for fifteen years and it facilitated many friendships and trusted neighbors. Bonnie was employed with Pillsbury in Joplin from 1979 until 1989. In Miami, Bonnie was a stay-at-home mother and was very involved with the PTA and Garden Club where she gained a “green thumb” for plants and flowers. Although “the store” occupied a great deal of home time, she and Bill provided the needs of their children with a humble home of laughter and love. With nice-spice as she called it, Bonnie has passed down parenting and housekeeping sayings to her children and grandchildren such as “a load a day [laundry] will keep the pile away”, “mean what you say…say what you mean”, “do the dishes and make your bed and the rest of the house will take care of itself”, “any relationship worth keeping is worth nourishing”, “when the going gets tough…the tough get going” and then the golden rule “treat others as you would like to be treated”. Bonnie and Bill kept life simple and conservative with their Christian and educational values. Bonnie and Bill were married 42 years until Bill’s death on December 7, 1989.
On January 5, 1991, Bonnie married Albert O. Hayter. Together they continued to reside in Fidelity MO and to serve the community. Bonnie was a member of Fairview Christian Church, served as secretary on the Fidelity Cemetery Board, a committee member for the Old Settler’s Picnic for many years, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 434 of Nixa MO. Bonnie instilled in her children a sense of volunteerism within their community which may have been derived by her mother, Dora, as they were committed to helping the Red Cross during WWII by learning to roll bandages and first aid techniques. She proudly attended several veteran events with Al to include the graduation of her grandson-in-law, Jeffrey Chastain, at the Great Lakes Naval Academy. She was presented Al’s memorial flag by her US Marine great-grandson, Brandon Chew and affirmed her admiration of military service to Jeff, Brandon, each of her husbands, each of her sons, US Army veteran great-grandson Damien Oxendine, her granddaughters Catherine, Christina, Cassandra, grandson-in-law David Beaumont and her son-in-law Bill White. She assisted her husband Al, along with Susan Wendleton in his pastoral duties at St. Luke’s Nursing Home for many years until Al’s death in 2017. Bonnie accomplished playing the piano in her “relaxed” days after raising six children. She and Al were avid gardeners known for their strawberries, tomatoes, and potatoes. She enjoyed “Roam’in Holidays” and showed her delight with life with a hearty laugh. Bonnie also instilled self-defense and safety precautions in which she was taught as a child growing up on a river-bank farm outside Fairland. She often told stories of her childhood especially carrying an ice pick to school for self-defense against panthers etc., and she and her sisters and brothers were each taught to shoot.
Bonnie’s go-to-never quit attitude has given her perseverance in the death of her parents, siblings, two husbands, and three children, aid and rehabilitation of a disabling child, the endurance of three sons serving in the military, one of which was in Vietnam. One of Bonnie’s daughters once asked her why she has to clean her house when she is stressed in which she replied, “well I guess it is habit…it needs to be done…and don’t you know I am doing some hard praying while I do it”.
Bonnie’s parents, stepfather Charles “Max” McCoy, her husbands Bill and Albert, her siblings, Clifford Henry Nichols, Herman Leonard Nichols, Gladys Dora (Nichols) Jackson, Max Ellis Nichols, Betty Mae (Nichols) Roberson; her children Donald Eugene Hankins (2004), Dana Dean Hankins (1992) and Pamela Kay Hankins (2021) each proceeded her in death. Bonnie was a direct descendant of the Daughters of American Revolutionary War Patriot Colonel Jonathan Porter, Jr.
Surviving children are Connie Sue Cook, of Webb City, MO; David Earl Hankins (Beverly) of Joplin, MO; and Julie Ann White (Bill) of Clever, MO.; ten grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren and still counting.
Today, we say goodbye to our beloved mother, aunt, grandmother and our friend.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Bonnie’s devoted non-profit charities: The Fidelity Cemetery, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 434 of Nixa MO; or St. Jude’s Childrens’ Hospital..