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.