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JUNE 15, 1915 -- MARCH 18, 2005

A memorial service for Alma Nye Bonner, a voice and piano teacher and former opera singer, will be held at 11 a.m. April 16 in Orchard Park Community Church, 7541 E. Quaker Road, Orchard Park. Burial will be in Colma, Calif.

Mrs. Bonner, of Orchard Park, died March 18 in Mercy Hospital. She was 89.

Born Alma Anderson in Milbury, Mass., she earned a two-year degree from Milbury College. As a young soprano in Massachusetts, she earned praise from one critic for her "lyric-coloratura voice of great beauty and distinctive purity."

After marrying in 1938, she and Harold W. Bonner moved to Palo Alto, Calif., where she studied voice under various San Francisco Bay area teachers. Her performances in "Faust," "La Traviata, "Bluebeard" and other roles led to a partnership with Aaron Copland; she sang his opera compositions as well as songs based on Emily Dickinson's poetry. Pianist Gene Gash later became her accompanist for 27 years.

Mrs. Bonner, who developed an interest in health foods and fitness and exercised regularly before suffering a stroke in February, had given music lessons in her home since moving to Orchard Park in 1986.

She was a past president of the Orchard Park Symphony Women's Committee, a member of Western New York Friends of the Canadian Opera Company and a founding member, organist and choir director of Orchard Park Community Church. She was a member of the Silver Fox women's group at First Presbyterian Church of Orchard Park and enjoyed swimming, sewing and reading.

Her husband died in 1990. Surviving are a daughter, Holly Chipchack of Orchard Park; a son, Peter of Boerne, Texas; and five grandchildren.


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