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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

BONNEWELL, Robert. (Altoona, IA, Oct. 24, 1918--Dubuque, IA, Jan. 15, 2001). Bonnewell graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in industrial economics. After working with General Electric in St. Louis and John Morrell & Co. in Ottumwa, he moved to Dubuque in 1967. He worked for Apple River Chemical Co. and then CARADCO.

Bonnewell led efforts to establish an area vocational school and chaired the DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE education committee. He was active in the YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.), Iowa State University Alumni Association, I.S.U. Tri-State Club, and the boards of the DUBUQUE ARTS COUNCIL, DUBUQUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, DUBUQUE COUNTY FINE ARTS SOCIETY, and the Symphony Search Committee. He was actie in the Kiwanis, serving as president of the local club and as a district lieutenant governor. (1) In 1980 he led one of the first exchanges when 280 people traveled from Dubuque to Berlin, Germany and served as the Finance Director of the Friendship Force exchange with Guatemala. He was also credited with bringing the artists-in-residence program to Dubuque. (2) In 1987 he served on the board of directors of the Third Annual Labor Day Weekend Pops Concert. (3)

Bonnewell, the organizer of bus trips to Ames for the International Concert Festival, with his wife, Latha BONNEWELL, were instrumental in beginning Dubuque's Friendship Force. In 1979 the Bonnewells went on a mission to Korea with Friendship Force. In 1986 the Bonnewells were committee members of the Mississippi Peace Cruise that brought fifty citizens of the Soviet Union (Commonwealth of Independent States) for a visit to Dubuque. Both Bonnewells were also active in the World Hunger Project of WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.For about ten years, the Bonnewells ran a weekly television program called "Get Acquainted Around the World" on which they interviewed foreign-exchange students from all over the tri-state area to make the students feel welcome and residents of Dubuque more aware of the world. They also took each student on a cruise of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER and invited them into their home. (4) As part of the "Get Acquainted Around the World" program, the Bonnewells had a semi-annual International Dinner at the Ryan House. (5)

The Bonnewells were chosen king and queen of the Dubuquefest Homecoming in 1986 for their outstanding contributions to cultural understanding. He was president of the local Kiwanis Club and served as the district lieutenant governor. Bonnewell received the 1975 Alumni Medal Award from Iowa State University. On January 1, 2001, Robert and Latha were recipients of the FIRST CITIZEN AWARD from the TELEGRAPH HERALD. In an editorial, the newspaper's editorial board stated

                     through personal travel, local initiatives and leadership
                     of Friendship Force, the Bonnewells have helped make the
                     world a smaller--and friendlier--place. (6)



1. Voight, Sandye, "Love-ly Couple Named 1st Citizens," Telegraph Herald, January 1, 2001, p. 1

2. "TH Honoree Dies After Cancer Battle," Telegraph Herald, January 17, 2001, p. 3

3. Stubben, Gladys, "Event Sponsorship-Why Is It Important," Telegraph Herald, March 9, 1987, p. 18

4. "TH Honoree...."

5. "Arts and Artists," Telegraph Herald, October 26, 1990, p. 9

6. "The Bonnewells Add Flavor to Dubuque, World," Telegraph Herald, January 3, 2001, p. 4