Mary Lou Bonander was born to Frank Sr. and Esther Youngdale on Valentine’s Day in 1930. The youngest of three, Mary joined her brothers Frank Jr. and Bill. She attended Hawthorne and Lowell Schools and graduated from Turlock High School in 1947. From there, Mary Lou attended North Park College, which was a two year school at the time. She then transferred to San Jose State, where she was the first woman to join the Accounting and Business Fraternity.
Upon her graduation in 1952, she married Gordon Bonander, who had just completed his second year of dental school. The newlyweds moved to San Francisco and Mary Lou began working while Gordon completed his training. Their daughter Ruth was born a year later. In 1954, after completing his training, the young couple moved back to Turlock where Gordon established his dental practice. Soon after, Tina, Ann, and Joe were welcomed to the family.
Once Joe started school, Mary Lou returned to Youngdale’s, the family business in downtown Turlock: Frank was in charge of the hardware department, Bill ran the appliance department, and Mary Lou oversaw the gift and toy departments. All three siblings worked side-by-side six days a week until they retired, maintaining an excellent rapport with each other as well as with the customers.
Mary Lou was active in her church, Beulah Covenant, now known as Turlock Covenant. She served as a Deaconess and held positions in women’s ministries. She also served on several boards for the Covenant, both in the Pacific Southwest Conference and nationally, including the Board of Benevolence and the North Park College Board.
Growing up with two older brothers, Mary Lou was quite a tomboy. She enjoyed swimming past the breakers in Santa Cruz, where the family had a rustic cabin. In her later years, she enjoyed walking for miles each week along the canal banks of Turlock with her good friend, Emogene. An ardent traveler, she and Gordon traveled the world extensively, first with CSUS and Dr. David Stenzel, and later with elder hostels. Her favorite activity, however, was camping and hiking, especially at Kennedy Meadows and Tuolumne Meadows.
Although Mary Lou was robbed of her ability to hear over the last decade of her life, she was able to find enjoyment in sewing and knitting. She made hundreds of layettes for missions in Congo, blankets and quilts for various charities, and children’s sweaters for distribution by World Vision. Upon her retirement, Mary Lou became a devoted fan of the San Francisco Giants. It was a special thrill for her to watch them win championships; she also enjoyed watching the Warriors.
Mary Lou entered Heaven’s gates on May 17, 2018. She was a kind and generous woman whose Christian faith was the cornerstone of her life. Mary Lou had a strong work ethic which she passed on to her children. She delighted in her grandchildren.
Mary Lou was preceded in death by her brothers, Frank and Bill, and her loving husband, Gordon. She leaves behind her children, Ruth (Rick) Gaffney, Tina (Brad) Bates, Ann Marie (Ed) McNulty, and Joe (Sue) Bonander; her grandchildren: Joyce (Rob) Ibanez, Paul and Kelly Gorman, Christine, Gordon, Charlie and Grant McNulty, Augusta and Sofie Bates, Ken and Eric Bonander; and one great-grandson, Marcus Ibanez.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 1, at Berg Hall at Covenant Village of Turlock, 2125 N. Olive Ave., Turlock. Memorial contributions can be made in Mary Lou’s honor to Mission Springs, 1050 Lockhart Gulch Rd., Scotts Valley, CA 95066 or to Covenant World Relief, 8303 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631.