Obituary : Gertrude H. "Bonnie" Meras
Gertrude Harned "Bonnie" Bunting Meras of East Chop, the wife of the late John E. Meras, died at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital on Sunday surrounded by her family. She was 78. Since 1995, Ms. Meras had been a year-round resident of the Vineyard, which had been the summer home of her husband's family since the 1890s.
On the Island, she worked for a time for the Martha's Vineyard Travel Bureau and was active in the P.E.O., a philanthropic organization that supports women's education. An outstanding tennis player in her youth, for many years she was a member of the East Chop Tennis Club. She belonged to the East Chop Beach Club, the Wellesley Club of Martha's Vineyard, and the Wellesley Club of Cape Cod. Over the years, she developed many long-lasting Island friendships. With her husband, she sailed Island and neighboring waters aboard his 26-foot San Juan, the Morning Star, which they kept moored in Oak Bluffs harbor.
Throughout her life, she was an avid sports fan, always enjoying watching tennis matches, UConn woman's basketball and football games. She was a strong supporter of the Patriots and the Red Sox. The daughter of a Yale alumnus and the wife of a Harvard alumnus, she was often left wondering for which side she should root at Harvard-Yale games. An animal lover as well as a sports lover, for many years her beloved companions were a black and white Island-born cat, Felix, and an Island-born golden retriever cross, Quitsa.
She was born in Trenton, N.J. on July 24, 1931, the daughter of Madeline (Keegan) Bunting and Samuel H. Bunting Jr. and grew up in Mountainside, N.J. She was a graduate of Westfield High School where she was valedictorian of the senior class, and of Wellesley College, class of 1953, where she majored in political science and minored in Spanish. An able linguist, she was hired by the U.S. Department of Defense after her graduation to translate Vietnamese before the U.S. entry into the Vietnam War.
A lifetime interest in travel began in 1955 when she sailed to Europe with her parents and visited Spain and southern France with them. At the end of the trip, she and John Meras, the brother of her Wellesley classmate, Phyllis Meras, were married in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The newlyweds then continued the travels she had begun with her parents by visiting more of France, as well as Italy and England.
When they returned to the United States, they made their first home in New Britain, Conn., where her husband was an employee of the Stanley Works. Before the births of her daughters, Leslie Ellen and Anne Michele "Chele", she worked for the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in Hartford. Later, for a time, she worked at Yale University and at the Country School in Madison.
In New Britain, she was active in the Red Cross and in the Homemaker Service, where she was in charge of public relations and publicity. She was on the board of the Junior League of New Britain and ultimately became regional director of the Association of Junior Leagues of America, visiting leagues all across the country. When she was 40, her right side was paralyzed by an aneurysm. During a year-long period of recovery, and following tireless, courageous efforts, she finally taught herself to talk and to drive again and to write with her left hand. Despite her disability, she insisted on leading a most active life. She often told her friends how happy she was to have a second chance and to be able to see her family grow.
After she and her husband moved to Guilford, Conn. in the 1970s, she became manager of the Shoreline Travel Center, and whenever she could, she would travel. When her husband joined the faculty at Quinnipiac College in Hamden and was sent by the college to Beijing, China to teach a course in business, she accompanied him. They went on from there to Singapore and Jakarta, Indonesia; then to Bandung, West Java where an old East Chop friend, John C. Hathaway, was advisor to the Marine Geological Institute. They ended that trip in Bali.
On other trips, John and Bonnie toured Portugal and Spain and sailed to Bermuda. They visited long-time Island friends Betty and the late Larry Pease in Florida and joined them on a second trip to Portugal. With her children and grandchildren, Bonnie cruised to the Bahamas and with her nonagenarian mother sailed aboard the QE2 to England on one of that vessel's last crossings. She frequently recounted stories of Princess Diana's butler, Paul Burrell, who sat at the table beside them in the dining room and treated them with grace and charm. She particularly enjoyed cruising because of her love of the water.
Bonnie Meras is remembered by her friends for her indomitable spirit, her keen intelligence, her unflagging devotion and generosity to her family, and her loyalty to her college. After her husband's death in 1996, she devoted much of her time to the care of her grandchildren, writing lovingly and proudly of their accomplishments as hockey and soccer players and as sailors in her 45th Wellesley College reunion book.
She is survived by her two daughters, Leslie Hurd Tully and Anne Michele Reekie of West Tisbury; six grandchildren: Kenneth Badger Hurd IV, Samuel Bunting Hurd, Colin Ross Hurd, Madeline Keegan Tully, Jennifer Ross Reekie and Sarah Elizabeth Reekie, all of West Tisbury; a step-grandchild, Lauren Tully of New York City; her sons in-law, Alan Reekie and Steven Tully of West Tisbury; two half brothers-in-law, Peter E. Meras of Exeter, N.H., and R. Christopher Meras of Lakeville; and her sister-in-law, Phyllis Meras Cocroft of West Tisbury.
A graveside service for friends and family will be held tomorrow, Friday, Dec. 4 at 12 noon at Oak Grove Cemetery in Oak Bluffs, with the Rev. Caithlin Baker officiating. A memorial service will be at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury at a time to be announced in the summer.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in her name may be sent to the Office for Resources-Gift Processing, Wellesley College, 106 Central St., Wellesley, MA 02483.