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Furman mourns death of Nilaouise Bonner, wife of Francis Bonner

By Tina Underwood

Nilaouise Carnes Bonner, wife of former Furman University provost Francis Bonner and a beloved figure in the Furman community, passed away peacefully in Charlotte, North Carolina, Wednesday, Oct. 31 at age 99.

A memorial service to celebrate her life will be held Saturday, Nov. 24 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Greenville, with visitation beginning one hour prior. A private graveside service was held at Springwood Cemetery in Greenville.

Nilaouise Bonner

Born in Alabama to Beulah and James Carnes, Nilaouise Bonner is preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Francis Wesley Bonner; sister, Clara Maddox; and brother, Ray Carnes. Nilaouise is survived by her daughter, Beth Taylor (David); son, Frank Bonner (Flossie); five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Both Beth ’76 and Frank ’69 are Furman graduates, and Frank currently serves as president of Gardner-Webb University. Francis died in 2009 at the age of 92.

Nilaouise and Francis moved to Greenville in 1949 when Francis joined the Furman faculty as an associate professor of English. He later served as vice president and provost, and was acting president of Furman for six months in 1964 and 1965. The Bonners were instrumental in helping the university make the transition from downtown Greenville to its current campus in the early 1960s.

“Mrs. Bonner displayed a great warmth and hospitality that made a difference in the lives of generations of Furman students,” said Jim Pitts, former Furman chaplain and professor of religion emeritus. “The Bonners were genuine in their concern for others, and Nilaouise will long be remembered at Furman for the kindness she showed everyone.”

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Francis W. Bonner Scholarship at Furman (Office of Development, 3300 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29613) or the Black-Bonner Scholarship at Gardner-Webb University (Advancement Office, Box 997, Boiling Springs, NC 28017).

A signed online guestbook is available at

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