May 8, 1923 – April 7, 2019
Eugene “Gene” Bondar, a retired SUNY Buffalo State professor of archaeology and anthropology, died April 7 in McMurray, Pa. He was 95.
Born in Chicago, he was a co-pilot in the Army Air Forces in World War II, flying transport planes to bases in the Pacific, supporting the liberation of the Philippines, the invasion of Okinawa and the occupation of Japan. He also helped return many liberated American prisoners of war. He attained the rank of captain.
Inspired by people and places he had seen during the war, he attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., under the G.I. Bill and received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 1950. He went on to take graduate studies at Colorado State University. He received two Fulbright scholarships to do research in Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Sudan.
After marrying Elsa Schmeiger in 1957, his academic career took him to Joliet, Ill.; Syracuse and Kisii, Kenya, for a year before he joined the Buffalo State faculty in 1967. He retired in 1987.
In retirement, Mr. Bondar was a ranger and archaeologist in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and several other parks in the West. He also lectured at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
He enjoyed hiking, biking, mountain climbing, cross-country skiing and canoe and backpacking trips with the Adirondack Mountain Club. He took part in archaeological digs on three continents.
A resident of Grand Island for almost 50 years, he was a member of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church and its Holy Name Society and was a former president of the Grand Island Figure Skating Club. He also coordinated a team of volunteers to assist others with income taxes.
He moved to Washington, Pa., in 2015 to be near two of his children.
His wife, a retired Grand Island elementary school teacher, died in February 2018.
Survivors include two sons, Douglas and Gregory; a daughter, Carol Johnson; and five grandchildren.
A family adventure to celebrate his life will be held this summer.