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Bonnie Chauncey, 71

Teacher and librarian

Opinion: Obituaries

July 26th, 2016 12:02 PM

Bonnie Chauncey

Bonnie McCulloch Chauncey, 71, of Oak Park, died on July 15, 2016 in Brunswick, Maine due to a stroke. Born on Jan. 31, 1945 to John W. and Elizabeth Epps McCulloch in Tuxedo Park, New York, she spent most of her childhood in a suburban community, Pomona Country Club in Rockland County, New York. She attended Scarborough School in Tarrytown and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 

At Dickinson, she met Donald R. Chauncey, and they were married after college in 1968. They moved to Topeka, Kansas, where Don was stationed at Forbes Air Force Base, and where Bonnie began studies for her Master of Education degree which was later awarded from Washburn University. In 1969, Don was re-assigned to Charleston AFB, South Carolina, where Bonnie taught, first in the public schools and later in a reading center for children in downtown Charleston. 

After the Air Force, the family returned to Pomona Country Club, where Bonnie became very interested in the Waldorf School movement and the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner. Their children went to the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley, and she later became one of the high school English teachers, leading courses in Moby Dick, the Bible as Literature, and Parsifal. She also led a poetry festival for the county at Green Meadow. 

Eventually, she decided to take on the most demanding of Waldorf Teacher tasks and became a class teacher, typically leading an elementary school class from first through eighth grade. The family moved to Oak Park in 1994, and she taught an elementary class in the Chicago Waldorf School. She led that class, too, through eighth-grade graduation, not only teaching but also writing plays for them to perform in Chaucerian verse and a rave performance of Pirates of Penzance in their final year. 

Leaving the Waldorf School, she obtained a second master's degree, this one in Library Science at Dominican University, where she graduated with honors. She was hired by Northeastern Illinois University where she taught more library classes than any other librarian up to that point and was promoted to an associate professor position. She continued at Northeastern until her retirement in 2012. 

She studied literature and loved books, poetry, Baroque music, and opera. Her lifelong passion was cooking from scratch, especially excelling at lost arts like pies and bread. She loved to entertain and always provided a gourmet meal with delicious breads and baguettes and amazing blueberry pies and chocolate cakes. She loved dinner and having people gathered around a bountiful feast. She was athletic all her life, from the time she was captain of the cheerleading team in high school, and she and Don hiked together in France, Germany, Ireland, Argentina, Chile, and Nepal. They always planned their own trips but never booked ahead and always followed other hikers' recommendations. This often meant hiking further after a long day to find a hotel but also led to wonderful experiences. Four of the trips are documented on the website, http://don.chauncey.org. 

They also traveled to Taiwan, China, and India with their daughter where she was studying for her International MBA. They also taught themselves to sail during vacations in Maine which provided them new opportunities for teamwork and friendship. 

Bonnie Chauncey is survived by her husband, Donald R. Chauncey; her children, Rob, Patrick, and Emily; and her grandson, Zachary. 

A memorial service is being planned. In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates donations to a charity she supported, the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry http://www.oprffoodpantry.org/.

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