September 23rd, 2014

Wallace Bonnafon remembered

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer

Wallace Bonnafon remembered
Wallace Bonnafon with wife Rosalind / photo and cover by Kathy Squitieri Chandler

You know a great person when you meet one. It could be their smile and the look in their eyes, or their voice or just the way they carry themselves. But we all know when we meet someone memorable.

Wallace Bonnafon would never profess to be anything other than what he was: a man of faith, a doting husband, a loving father, a steadfast friend and a mentor to many. His passing at age 51 last week may have left a void for some, but the lives he touched will continue to grow in his memory.

His wife, Rosalind, and son Reggie, former Trinity quarterback and current University of Louisville backup quarterback, and his older brother  Larry ,along with several nieces, nephews and extended family, will certainly keep his legacy alive.

Even to the smallest of acquaintances, Wallace, with his bellowing baritone voice resonating through the air, would make that person feel special. His ever present smile and his patient, compassionate ear belied the big man’s outward persona. Having worked with troubled high school students for the past six years at Buechel Metropolitan High School, Wallace’s presence had a calming effect on those he mentored.

“First and foremost, Wallace was a strong man,” Buechel principal Joey Riddle said. “He had a presence about him that you could feel. Add to that a sense of humor that was able to work well with kids. He could utilize his humor and his personality to de-escalate kids and get them to calm down, listen, work and talk about whatever was on their mind. He had a tremendous ability to get to a deeper level with the kids here and that was pretty special.”

Wallace and his brother Larry, six years his senior, “grew up in a house full of women,” Larry laughed as he recalled the days when he and his little brother would run out of the house to find a ballgame.

“We were surrounded by our faith and a lot of women,” Larry laughed that signature, deep Bonnafon laugh. “Wallace was so full of life and he could just light up a room. He always wanted to do for others whether it was family, friends and folks from the church or neighbors. We’ll continue to trust and believe that God will continue to bless us with his memory.”

Wisdom comes from many things, such as experience, listening, failure and success. Wallace Bonnafon embodied those qualities along with a heart that showed a firm hand when needed and a compassion that had a lasting effect on others.

“There were two kids in particular who really struggled to connect with school,” Riddle recalled. “He was able to mentor them and they would resort to him when things got tough in class or outside of school. They would ask to talk with him and he would walk and talk through the halls with them, have a casual conversation with them that usually involved laughs and smiles. Kids loved that about him. It was always good to see his smiling face, to see that softer side of an adult that would help you identify what was the problem and have a plan for success. And those two kids found success here and eventually graduated. Those were two, but I know there were many more.”

A lasting memory and a loving legacy for the entire Bonnafon family. 


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