Bonnie Collins Fort Strang, 70, died on Monday, April 21, 2014, at her son’s home in Lakeland surrounded by her loving family.
She was born in Bartow, Fla., on July 19, 1943.
She was preceded in death by her daughter Sandra Groover; parents Rev. Lawrence and Nila Collins; and her brother Wallace Collins.
She is survived by her son, Jeffrey Fort (Penny), Lakeland; grandsons, Billy (Jessica) Groover, Bartow, Cody Groover, N.C., granddaughter, Scottie Fort, Texas, four great-grandchildren, Mercedes, Kayla, Cale, and Autumn of Bartow, Fla.; sisters, Evelyn McClelland, Laura Hall Smith, Doris Tharp, Alice McCaleb, Sally Kendrick, and Jane Gardner; brothers, M.L. Collins and Bob Collins; four step-grandchildren, Alicia, Katie, Heather and Josh Herndon, Lakeland; four step-grandchildren, Alicia, Katie, Heather and Josh Herndon, Lakeland.
Bonnie struggled with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for over five years and taught us all how to live and die with faith and grace. Even though she suffered greatly, she always managed a smile and a “thumbs up” to all.
Bonnie requested that we not have a funeral but a celebration of life before her death. We did that on Easter Sunday with family and friends showing their love for Bonnie, and Bonnie showing her love and bidding us all farewell until we meet again.
Bonnie was multi-talented. She entertained us for years with her music — especially, the piano — and awed us with the beauty of her art. Recently, with limited use of her hands, she painted a beautiful picture of her view of Lake Bonny.
She lived on Terra Ceia Island and Bradenton, Fla., for years where she owned and operated several beauty salons. She was a successful Realtor in Sebring, Fla., and owned Breton’s Restaurant in Bartow.
She moved to Toronto, Canada, in the late 1980s and led the Gospel Choir at St. John’s York Mills Anglican Church.
She painted beautiful murals in many homes in Canada and in her mother’s home in Bartow.
Bonnie will be cremated and has requested that we “have a party” and scatter her ashes on the beach at her beloved Anna Maria Island where she lived for many years.
The family requests that any donations be made to ALS, Bartow Firewalkers, 3242 Parkside Center Circle , Tampa, FL 33619-0907.
Condolences to family at www. whiddenmcleanfuneralhome.com.
Whidden-McLean Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.