Bonita “Bonnie” Louise Miller Fennell, 72, also known as “Yaya” was born in Binghamton, New York on June 25, 1950 and went home to be with Jesus on March 5, 2023. She moved with her parents and 4 brothers to Florida when she was around 8 years old. Bonnie graduated from Dixie Hollins High School where she was a Rebelette with the band and married her high school sweetheart, Andy Fennell. They had 4 children—Kari, Kim, Andrew, and Krissy. Kari passed away from leukemia at St. Jude’s in 1974.
Bonnie got her cosmetology license and maintained it until her death. She was extremely creative and could paint anything. She also did ceramics, water aerobics, yoga, and briefly dabbled in taxidermy. She worked for the City of Pinellas Park for over 30 years in many different capacities. Her first job with the city was at Skyview Recreation Center and then she became the manager at Forbes Recreation Center from its grand opening. She ran several preschool programs and taught ceramics as well as a summer program each year. The kids whose lives she touched still recognized her around town and stopped to give her hugs and thank her for the special place she still had in their hearts. Bonnie and her husband Andy began the annual haunted house in their front yard which grew in popularity and moved to the City Auditorium—she as Witchy Poo and Andy as the Mad Scientist. She went on to work at the Senior Center as well, caring for “older kids” where she continued to create fun programs to help keep the senior citizens vital and productive. Bonnie was beloved by all her employees and maintained friendships with many of them. She always put the needs of others above her own. If you needed a friend, a hug, or just a sympathetic ear, Bonnie was there to lend hers.
Even among the joys she had with her friends and family, Bonnie continued to face hardship. In 2001, her house caught fire while she was out in Washington helping care for her mom who was recovering from surgery, and when she returned her beloved husband, Andy, suffered a heart attack and passed away on September 12. Over time her home was rebuilt and she was able to again enjoy holidays, though tinged with grief, with friends and her growing family. Bonnie also loved to cook, read, and travel. On every holiday, Bonnie had a gift for those she loved—a Valentine, an Easter basket, and a gift under the tree at Christmas. She had visited England many years ago and always talked about the amazing time she had.
Her faith was tested in June 2022 when she received the diagnosis of stage 4 small cell lung cancer. The cancer metastasized to her bones, liver, and brain requiring chemo and intense doses of radiation to keep it in check. Throughout this time, her faith grew and she spoke more and more of the Lord and reuniting with her daughter, husband, and parents. She loved listening to the classic hymns she had been raised on, as they gave her comfort during these days when things seemed so dark. At this time, Bonnie learned about “The Chosen,” a series about the lives of the 12 disciples as they followed Christ. She watched every episode and was starting to watch season 3 when she went Home to meet them in person. Her faith was the most important and integral part of her life, especially as she fought this battle, and she wanted others to share that faith in Jesus so that she will see them again. Preceding her in Glory are her daughter Kari, her husband Andy, and her parents Edith Nioma Miller and James Everett Miller. Bonnie is survived by her kids: Kim, Andrew, and Krissy. She is also survived by her grandkids: Justin, Kylie, Ethan, AJ, Oliver, and Kloey. If she were with us now, she would want to give special thanks to her big brother Brig. Gen. James E. Miller, Jr. (USAF-Ret.), for loving her and helping take care of her till the very end. Also, her baby brother Robert for praying for her, assuring her of his love for her, and encouraging her in her fight.
If you feel so moved, the family requests that donations in Bonnie’s memory be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
A Homegoing Service will be held Thursday, March 16th at 11 am:
Park Place Wesleyan Church
4400 70th Ave. North
1 Cor 2:9
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Park Place Wesleyan Church
March 14, 2023, 1:29 pm
I have had the pleasure of being a friend of Bonnie’s for years. Bonnie treated her friends so special and would she let friends know how much she loved them. She would give gifts on Holidays. My last gift was Easter 2022 . A bracelet that said Friends Forever. I miss her so much. She had very strong Faith and she shared so many stories. She loved her Family and Friends too and if you were lucky enough to be a part of her life you were in her life and she would always be there for you. As Bonnie got the dreadful diagnosis in June 2022 I lost my forever partner that month too, but she was there to comfort me. She always put others before herself. I love you Bonnie I know you’re in heaven as a perfect Angel like you were here on earth and that you’re still out Angel looking after all of us.
March 14, 2023, 8:15 pm
I miss my friend already and will continue to do so in the future.
We shared many happy times and sad times. She had a laugh that could light up a room.
She is loved by many.
Linda and Roger Beaulieu
March 15, 2023, 12:01 am
Although we were not close friends, I would say that Roger and I were friendly acquaintances with Bonnie for almost 15-20 years. It was the kind of sweet relationship where we always were happy to greet each other and see that the other one was doing okay. Bonnie came into our lives during the time we owned the Curves franchise and we always were brightened by her remembering us and greeting us wherever we met her, most often pre-pandemic at Lil Bit of Kuntry with her friend(s). We will miss her greeting us with that beautiful smile. If we miss her already, I know that her bright light will be missed terribly by her family. Our thoughts, hearts and prayers will be with all of you.
March 16, 2023, 12:35 pm
Sending love and prayers to our cousins as they mourn the death of their mother, our “Aunt Bonnie”. Remembering aunt Bonnie from our childhood, with her huge smile and contagious laughter. We know she is happy to reunite with “uncle Andy”, cousin Kari, and aunt Nioma, and uncle James. May she rest in peace.
March 17, 2023, 3:57 am
A beautiful lady, always so kind and caring. I only knew her for a few years and was touched by her undying faith and loving spirit. I was truly blessed to have known her and will keep her family in my prayers.