Bonnie L. Jenkins

Honored by:Gaynelle J. Moore
Brick location:K:6  map

Bonnie joined the staff of the Iowa State Seed Lab in 1953 as a seed analyst and later became Purity Analysis Supervisor. She trained under Dr. Leroy Everson Director of the Laboratory and worked closely with Dr. Duane Isely. Upon her retirement in 1976 Dr. Isely wrote "You have made the purity end of the laboratory go for nearly a quarter of a century ....How many people I wonder have you trained over the years in purity analysis? I won't even guess the number but were they all here I believe they would unanimously attest that their learning had been a pleasure as far as you were concerned."

In Dr. Everson's letter of congratulations he wrote "You took a big share of the load in our two weeks short course which we presented at Iowa State Seed Lab every second year. Many in Seed Technology had their first organized purity analysis training under your guidance. The personal award you received from the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST) in Lincoln was well deserved .... In addition to being an accurate dedicated worker and supervisor you had the ability to work with people. You were warm understanding and patient with your students and with persons you met in everyday life. It was my good fortune to know and work with you in the Iowa State University Seed Laboratory."

Bonnie's students came from many parts of the world. She found satisfaction in knowing that better agricultural methods would result in feeding the hungry in the developing countries. She corresponded with many former trainees in her retirement. Bonnie Loraine Spalding was born on January 1, 1909 in a small log home belonging to her great uncle in the rocky hills of central Missouri. She was the oldest child of Alec Deuain Spalding and his wife Bessie Loveall Spalding. She was a good student and she made friends easily. She may have had dreams of an education and a career but fate stepped in with the early death of her father the stock market crash and ultimately the Depression.

She married Garland Jenkins and they became the parents of five children with four surviving into adulthood. She accepted her role as a mother during a time of hardship and sacrifice. Then fate stepped in again and she found herself a widow in 1948 with four children to raise. She took a job in the Seed Lab of the Missouri State Department of Agriculture in Jefferson City, MO.

When she was sent to the short course at Iowa State College in Ames for training her potential was recognized and soon she was offered the job which led to a 23 year career at Iowa State. Bonnie never owned a car and did not drive. She walked to the market to church and to work. She was a familiar figure hurrying across the ISU campus. When asked what she owed her longevity to she often commented on all the walking she had done. Also she mentioned the daily climbing of four flights of stairs to the Seed Lab on the top floor of Old Botany Hall now known as Carrie Chapman Catt Hall.

Leaving Ames in 1976 she returned to her home state and lived in Kansas City where she became the central figure in a large and active extended family. She died at age 94 on May 16, 2003. She left four children, nine grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Her family and friends miss her. And her children are very mindful of the lessons she taught by her example: generosity, compassion, courage, action, acceptance, endurance, faith and most of all love. They lovingly dedicate this brick to her memory.