The following was submitted by Journal contributor Stephanie Silvia:
Heather Bonser-Bishop, a 39-year-old mother, nonprofit consultant and active community member in Trinidad, drowned Saturday while paddle boarding with her husband and two daughters on the Chetco River. She and her 11-year-old daughter were behind the rest of the family when her board and line became tangled with a submerged tree, pulling her under. Curry County Sheriff John Bishop (no relation) said a man reported hearing a child cry for help on the riverbank shortly before 6 p.m. When deputies arrived, they could see a woman's body under the water, caught on a tree. Bonser-Bishop's body was recovered at about 7:30 p.m. by search and rescue personnel. The accident is under investigation.
Heather was a gorgeous, brilliant, vibrant mother, wife and community member, totally present, always passionately involved in the moment. She wore her signature long hair parted down the middle; colorful, ankle-length hippie skirts that cascaded past her long legs; flip-flops or platform sandals; blue eye shadow; and a full, wide smile. She was opinionated, loving, and bursting with causes, ideas and friendship. Bumping into Heather and her girls in Trinidad was a jolt of energy, the three very much entwined. I find it inconceivable that she won't be walking into Trinidad Library on a windy day, chasing down her youngest or discussing book choices with her first born.
Heather, who received an MBA from Humboldt State University, had spent years as a vocal, hardworking member of the Trinidad School Board. She served seven years as executive director of North Coast Clinics Network before starting her own non-profit consulting business. She and her family had been living on the Oregon Coast for the past few years, a move made for economic reasons.
The last time I saw Heather was over spring break in the produce aisle of the Trinidad Murphy's Market, where she enthusiastically announced that she and her family would be returning home before the next school year. She and her husband John, and daughters Greta and Elia, were very much looking forward to moving back into the home he had built in Westhaven. The girls were elated about returning to their classmates at Trinidad Elementary School. Even while living in Oregon, the family was never absent from Trinidad for very long. They were often seen at school events and Crabs games in Arcata with their many friends. Despite being in a state of collective shock, the entire Westhaven-Trinidad community awaits the family's homecoming with open arms and loving hearts.
ADDENDUM: The Open Door and the North Coast Clinics Network have started a memorial scholarship fund in honor of Heather Bonser-Bishop for her daughters' future education. Heather's daughters are 11 and 13. Should you like to make a contribution please send your checks to:
Heather Bonser-Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund
c/o Heather Bonser-Bishop Children
PO BOX 966
Eureka, Ca. 95502