A year ago the Fireside Choir family welcomed Bonnie Penno. Her musical gifts as a soprano and a flute player have enhanced the choir’s offerings and instrumental music for the worship services. Music has always been a part of Bonnie’s life. Her mother loved music and offered her children piano lessons when they were young, and she frequently hummed, whistled, or sang while doing tasks. Bonnie grew an appreciation for all styles of music through attending instrumental and vocal concerts and listening to records and favorite radio stations at home. When asked about her “favorite” music, Bonnie replied that the music she most relates to is the music that she doesn’t have to read—the kind that she feels in her heart, the songs that put a smile on her face. Fondly reflecting on the campfire or hiking songs learned as a Girl Scout and a camp counselor, Bonnie sang, “Everybody Hates Me, Nobody Likes Me, Think I’ll Eat Some Worms.”
Bonnie started studying the flute in sixth grade and continued playing throughout high school. The flute was “put on the shelf” until moving to Iowa City in 2004. Proving that once music is in one’s life it is there forever, the flute came off the shelf when Bonnie joined the Iowa City Community Band. She is enjoying relearning the instrument and is expanding her skills as she plays the piccolo in the Linn Street Band.
Bonnie prepared to become an Occupational Therapist at Mount Mercy College in Milwaukee. Now retired, Bonnie now works at the College of Medicine as a Physical Exams Teaching Instructor and a Standardized Patient. Topping her favorite volunteering list is sharing her skills as a Master Gardener. She notes she is constantly learning from Mother Earth.
Bonnie enjoys traveling with husband Mark and son Alex. They find themselves traveling to visit friends and family members. Other destinations have included Mark’s teaching assignments, and we must not leave out trips to scuba dive! The travel list is long, including most of the United States and Hawaii, eight European countries, three countries in Asia, Central America, and at least four Caribbean islands. An upcoming trip in December will find them traveling to Kolkata, India to attend a friend’s wedding. This trip is special for another reason as they will take Alex to the orphanage that he was living in when Bonnie and Mark adopted him in 1988.
Her commitment to Habitat for Humanity also finds her traveling. Bonnie has lent her hand to two international builds in Nicaragua and El Salvador. This February she will be involved in a build in Guatemala.
Upon meeting Bonnie one cannot help but admire her beautiful red hair. Demonstrating her good humor, Bonnie reports, “Even though my bones may be compromised, I am fortunate to have hair that grows.” Bonnie has shared that gift five times over the years by donating her cut hair, with each donation being at least eighteen inches, to Locks for Love.
An early riser, Bonnie relishes the early hours of each day when she enjoys listening to the music of the day as it awakens. She quoted Mary Oliver, “I saw that worrying had come to nothing and gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang.”
—Submitted by Your Music Director, Gloria Corbin