Bob Sweeney: Paying tribute

To the editor:

Dear Bryce Jacobson and crew:

It was good to see you at the recent Colorado Press Convention. Your Craig newspaper swept sweepstakes again this year and you should be proud to publish such a great Colorado daily newspaper. I’m proud of my hometown and local newspaper.

Across my fax machine last week came a sad obituary on Richard E. “Dick” Bonderud. He was the voice and driving force behind KRAI radio for many years. His morning “Birthday Club” was a bestseller, and he traveled Northwest Colorado broadcasting hundreds of Bulldogs football and basketball games.

He was my neighbor and good friend, and we enjoyed many discussions and Craig Lions Club meetings together.

The old man peering out of the obit was not the dashing Dick Bonderud that I remember dating and marrying Joanna Bartlett, the cheerleading queen who was the popular soda jerk at Cowan’s Drug Store. Dick married the prettiest girl in Craig, had a family and ran his great radio station. He loved to fly his Balanca airplane and could be found hanging out at the airport with Lee Tucker or Ross Evans, if not flying across his 50,000-watt radio empire.

As the media goes, the Cory family, who owned the major interest in KRAI, eventually made some moves that forced Dick out of the radio business into becoming a banker for a short period of time with First Federal Savings & Loan and president Bob Conder.

Years passed, and Joanna passed away in Craig, and Dick eventually remarried and lived in Palisade with his present wife, Barbara Bellville. She cared for Dick until his death last week in the Hospice Care Center in Grand Junction.

I’ve stayed in touch with Dick and visited him numerous times with Ron Scribner when in Grand Junction. We took him to the famed annual Moffat County picnic several summers ago. Many former Craig residents were in attendance.

Bob Conder is alive and well living near Erie, and doing well after the death of his wife, Bobbie.

The obituary announced that Dick was cremated and there wouldn’t be a funeral service held for him. He was well-liked, loved and respected in Craig and Northwest Colorado. He always was very humble, dedicated to his business and served Craig in city government, and he needs a lasting tribute of some kind here in Craig.

We should not just let Dick and his many contributions to Northwest Colorado go so unnoticed and unheralded. Something in Craig needs to be named in his honor and we need to remember this fine man, Dick Bonderud, our radioman who radiated our lives.

Let’s do something outstanding for his memory.

Bob Sweeney

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