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Doing the ‘bucket list’

Carol Bonar has 35 things on her life’s to-do list, a project launched at age 70

March 10, 2013
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Herald-Star community editor ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - As March brings the reminder that one-fourth of a new year is almost history as are many people's good-intentioned New Year's resolutions, a Steubenville woman nonetheless remains as committed as ever to checking off things she wants to do and accomplish in her lifetime.

Seventy-five-year-old Carol Bonar, director of the neuro/vascular lab for Trinity Health System, started a "bucket list" when she turned 70 on Feb. 15, 2008, inspired by the movie of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

The 2008 film is about two terminally ill men who set off on a road trip with a wish list of things they wanted to do before they "kicked the bucket," hence the phrase "bucket list."

Article Photos

Carol Bonar of Steubenville checks out her scrapbook in which she keeps track of her 'bucket list' things to do.
-- Janice R. Kiaski

It put Bonar in a life-reflective mode.

"I started thinking about how many accomplishments I had made in the past 70 years," Bonar said of how the bucket list idea fascinated her.

She had been married for more than 50 years to her husband, Ron; raised three children and three grandchildren; and had eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren with another one on the way that June.

"That's an accomplishment in itself," Bonar said.

But she also considered how she had worked at the same place for more than 37 years, at Trinity Medical Center West and when it was St. John Medical Center; had served since 1989 as the historian for ASET, the national neurodiagnostic society; and had been involved with hospital activities that ran the gamut from the ECHO charitable fund, and employee bus trips to children's parties and bowling outings.

Plus there was her participation in a host of community projects - everything from the United Way of Jefferson County and the AIM Women's Center to the March of Dimes, Urban Mission Ministries and Easter Seals.

But even though she'd done a lot of things, there was more that Bonar said she hoped to do.

So making a bucket list came effortlessly.

"I came up with 35 things that I must do before I leave this Earth," Bonar said of the number, which was half of her age at the time.

Her list is in no particular order and minus a time frame. Some things are easier to do than others, and many of them relate to travel, something she loves to do.

A scrapbook enthusiast, Bonar chronicles her bucket list achievements to date with pictures and commentary.

Bonar is quick to point out that what's on her "bucket list" is uniquely her own as would anyone's list be.

So far, she's done nine things on the list, including:

Taking her first train ride, which was on March 30, 2012, from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., to join in a Walk for Epilepsy, which she plans to do again this year;

Going turkey hunting, which she did April 21, 2008, with fellow employees Buddy Warren and Tom Tsesmelis on a private farm in the state Route 213, Steubenville, area. The five-hour adventure began in the wee hours of the morning, being in the woods at daybreak, with a hunting-garbed Bonar who said she learned a lot, including how to check the tracks of deer, turkey and coyotes, and how turkeys might be known to be dumb, but they can see for miles and hear the slightest noise. That's why Bonar kept perfectly still, she said, to not interrupt her co-workers' hunting.

Attending a March Madness game in Washington, D.C., on March 22, 2008. A huge college basketball fan, Bonar said her family, friends and co-workers gave her the greatest gift - tickets to a March Madness basketball game that she attended with her grandson Eric. At the Verizon Center, they watched Duke and West Virginia and Purdue and Xavier - both great games, she said. The trip also afforded the opportunity for a tour of Washington.

Riding a motorcycle on Aug. 2, 2009. Bonar was en route to Phoenix to attend the 50th anniversary of ASET when she stopped in Lawton, Okla., on the way to visit with her son Ron and his wife Mina. Her son has a Harley, so Bonar donned her cycle gear and off the two went down Route 62 to Interstate 44. "Wow, what a ride," notes Bonar's in her scrapbook commentary.

Completing 40 years on the job, which was marked May 11, 2009. Bonar said she started night turn in central service and after about a year, was asked to train for EKG, then EEG. "I opened the EEG lab in 1974 and soon after became the director," she said. She was the 2010 St. Clare Award recipient presented by the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania for her unique and exemplary contributions to society and for modeling Franciscan values in her everyday life.

Seeing the Florida Keys on Feb. 9, 2009, a trip that involved 3,445 miles and a picture taken of her at the farthest southern point on the East Coast, only 90 miles from Cuba. The trip included a stay at the 100-year-old Curry Mansion where Bonar met its owner, a woman who was the first millionaire on the island.

Bonar's other bucket list items completed are seeing "The Lion King" musical on Broadway on May 16, 2009; riding in a convertible for the first time ever on Sept. 4, 2009, thanks to Chris Sterling; and seeing the Steelers in a Super Bowl on Feb. 1, 2009.

Also on her bucket list are:

Seeing a Final Four game;

Taking all 11 grandchildren on a vacation - without their parents;

Meeting the president of the United States;

Taking a trip to India and riding an elephant there;

Going golfing;

Shooting a gun on the range;

Going to Hawaii;

Taking a motor coach cross-country trip;

Having a family reunion "with even the cousins there";

Going deep sea fishing;

Going to the hot air balloon festival in New Mexico;

Becoming a great-great-grandmother;

Whale watching;

Seeing Bette Midler in concert;

Going to the San Diego Zoo;

Giving back 2,000 volunteer hours to the hospital when she retires, a word not really in her vocabulary;

Doing some type of missionary work;

Crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge;

Traveling to Novia Scotia;

Having an area of the hospital named in her honor;

Walking down the aisle for some of her great-grandchildrens' weddings;

Attending the high school and college graduations of Sheraj and Simree Singh, whom she served as a nanny for;

Reading all the books of the Old Testament;

Attending a Passover sedar meal; and

Attending a Jewish service at the temple.

Bonar has reason behind all of her bucket list items, including the last two, for example, which are because of her time when she worked 17 years for the Abe Pearlman family at the Farmer's Exchange.

"It was a wonderful fruit market across the street from the (Jefferson County) courthouse," Bonar said. "I was a clerk, and I loved it," she said of her employment there that began in 1957.

Bonar said family, friends and co-workers are basically supportive of her bucket list goals, and so is she.

"I think it gives you something to look forward to," she said. "I've had a lot of fun with that."

The list, she adds with a chuckle, could be extended.

"If I complete all these things and think it's time for that holy man to call me home, I may hurry up and add a few things."

(Kiaski can be contacted at

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