Originally Published: November 6, 2018 9:28 p.m.
A light for many went out this week with the passing of Bonny Darlene West Kempf.
At 95 years old she was a 60-year resident of Prescott, Arizona, and a very active part of this community all that time. Bonny was born in her grandmother Baker’s home at 11 a.m., Jan. 18, 1923, in West Chester, Iowa. Her grandma and old Dr. MacLaughlin, thinking she was a “bonny darlin’ girl,” registered her as Bonny Darlene West.
Bonny grew up a farm girl, but her love of caring for others took her into nursing. After graduation she became a private scrub nurse for Dr. Harold Voris, the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate Siamese twins neurologically joined. On Easter Sunday 1946 she married her childhood play-pal, Zene Kempf.
After their first son, H. Zene, arrived they moved west to Pasadena, California. There Bonny worked as a psychiatric nurse taking care of the likes of Marlon Brando, Van Johnson and Rock Hudson, while Zene worked as a mechanic at both a Cadillac dealership and the wind tunnel at Cal Tech.
In 1958, with the 210 freeway and the heavy smog encroaching on their Pasadena home, they moved to Prescott, Arizona. Here Bonny started to work as a surgical nurse at the VA Hospital at Ft. Whipple. She continued in the operating room there until her retirement in 1985. This was not enough for Bonny though, she served on several boards including the board of directors of the early YMRC and the board of the Salvation Army where she won their “Others” Award for her service. She was a member of the founding committee for the Northern Arizona Mental Health Association.
Bonny served as a Cub Scout Den Mother for 15 years, and 4-H Advisor teaching girls sewing and the secrets to her County Fair blue ribbon jams. One of her proudest accomplishments was establishing, along with a handful of other nurses, Dress-A-Child in 1966 to help provide new clothes for children in need. They went from outfitting 17 children in 1966 to over 500 by 1990.
Bonny was a member of Women of the Moose from 1963 and she was active in starting the Disciples of Christ Church in Prescott and later as a member of the United Methodist Church. The list goes on. Bonny was a lady of boundless energy always seeking to help those less fortunate. She will surely be missed by so many whose lives she touched and help improve.
Information provided by survivors.