“She and her husband, Jack, left a legacy in the community, and this hospital is one of them.”
—Jennifer Riley, The Memorial Hospital’s chief of organizational excellence, on former hospital board chairwoman Missy Bonaker
The Memorial Hospital Board’s meeting Thursday started much like any other.
Call to order: Check.
Agenda review: Approved.
Conflicts of interest: None.
It was when chairwoman Missy Bonaker opened the floor to public comment in her quiet, matter-of-fact way that the meeting drifted into personal channels.
As members of the audience took their turn to speak, the discussion wasn’t about budgets, hospital programs or day-to-day details Bonaker grew familiar with during her seven years on the board.
It was about Bonaker, who was sitting at the board table for the final time.
“I would like to say ‘thank you’ for all your years of service,” Gail Severson said. “You’ve done a fabulous job, Missy.”
Mike Brinks took the floor shortly afterward, tears filling his eyes.
“I’m sure the board realizes the leadership they’re going to be missing here,” he said. “I wish the rest of the community knew it.”
Bonaker thanked Brinks, Severson and the eight or so other residents who came to the meeting to express their gratitude.
Then, in the same quiet matter-of-fact way — only this time with a wry smile — she told them they didn’t have to stay for the remainder of the meeting.
“You don’t have to sit through a boring hospital board meeting,” she said as a ripple of laughter greeted her words.
Earlier this month, the Moffat County Commission appointed Craig resident Gary Ellgen in place of Bonaker.
Bonaker didn’t draw much attention to her departure Thursday. Instead, she continued with business as usual, calling for motions and asking for votes.
Her calm demeanor fits with what board member John Kinkaid has seen from Bonaker during his two years on the hospital board.
“She was a workhorse and not a show horse,” he said, “meaning ... that she worked very hard but has a quiet personality.”
He later added in an email, “Missy blended soft-spokeness and humility with intelligence, focus, perseverance and leadership.”
Beneath the unassuming exterior, though, longtime board member Don Myers recognized the drive that propelled Bonaker through her years of board service.
“I think she had a passion for the hospital and the work it’s doing,” said Myers, whom the board elected Thursday to fill the chairman’s position.
“She served well wherever she was at.”
From the time Bonaker stepped on the board in 2004 in place of her late husband, Jack, she filled a multitude of roles.
She was first treasurer, then vice chairwoman, then chairwoman. She also served on several committees, including those for finance, physician credentialing, and quality, she said.
She played a role in the construction of the new hospital, right down to its carpets and decor.
She served on the building committee and one of its subcommittees dedicated to the building’s aesthetic elements.
“She and her husband, Jack, left a legacy in the community,” said Jennifer Riley, TMH’s chief of organizational excellence, “and this hospital is one of them.”
Serving on the hospital board was only one of Bonaker’s many community service activities over the years.
She’s the Craig Chamber of Commerce treasurer, was a major contributor to The Center of Craig, and served on the Craig Improvement Authority, a now-disbanded organization aimed at beautification and civic improvements.
During her more than three decades in Craig, she also made her mark as an established businesswoman.
She and Jack started Bonaker and Associates when they came to the area from Grand Junction 33 years ago. As with the hospital board position, she kept her husband’s legacy alive, stepping in to run the business after his death.
“We’ll miss her experience,” said George Rohrich, TMH chief executive officer after the meeting.
Rohrich said he looks forward to working with Ellgen, but also “hopes to work with (Bonaker) again in the future.”
He cut his comments short so he could give her a hug before she slipped away from the board meeting for the final time.
Bonaker was quiet as one by one, board members left for the evening.
“I’m going to miss these people,” she said through her tears.
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