Bonnie Kepplinger

Deceased: February 26, 2018

Service Information:

Mass: Saturday, March 10, 11am at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 708 W. Belmont, with a party afterwards at Bonnie’s house.
Memorial Visitation: 45 minutes before Mass in the back of the church
Interment: Private


Bonnie Kepplinger, 76, of Chicago died at peace on February 26, 2018, after a month’s illness. Bonnie was born on March 10, 1941, in Beloit, Wisconsin, of William Charles and Ruth West Kepplinger. She graduated from Barat College in 1963 and from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1965 with degrees in English. After teaching high school for a few years in Chicago, Bonnie found her calling developing textbooks for Scott Foresman and Company. She also found her husband there, Eugene Vaughan, whom she married in 1981. Their son Greg was born in 1982.

Bonnie skied in her 20s, had a weekly tennis match for decades, biked thousands of miles on the rural roads around the Red House in central Wisconsin, and walked everywhere in the city up until her last days. She regularly played blackjack with her college friends, and continued to add new friends until the last week of her life.

Bonnie wrote poetry, read and traveled widely, and frequently went to movies and plays, from Steppenwolf to storefront experimental theater. In the early 1970s she helped write the Guidelines on Improving the Image of Women in Textbooks, which was profiled in the inaugural issue of Ms. magazine and later lambasted by William F. Buckley, much to Bonnie’s delight. She always had at least one volunteer gig, most recently working weekly at Lakeview Pantry and with homeless LGBTQ teens at the Night Ministry and The Crib. She was recognized as Night Ministry’s Volunteer of the Year in 2012.

Above all, Bonnie treasured her loved ones. She was a cook and host nonpareil, frequently having dinners and parties for her extended family and her many friends. Guests loved her warmth and wit as much as the food. At 74, she competed on the Food Network’s Chopped, losing to a Chicago Franciscan nun who used the proceeds to feed the poor, an outcome Bonnie probably preferred, given her Catholic faith and her own volunteer work. She brought cookie-making, Dollar Store trinkets, books, Jelly Bellies, and joie de vivre to her grandchildren.

Bonnie disliked compliments, asparagus, and even the possibility of someone fussing over her. She practiced (but didn’t talk about) her faith, rarely missing weekly Mass. Bonnie fought to resolve the large and small injustices she saw around her. She loved Chicago, the Cubs, Dickens, the Oscars, and chatting by the fireplace with a glass of red wine or a brandy Manhattan.

Bonnie’s husband Gene died in 2009. She is survived by many nieces and nephews, her son Gregory, his wife Carolina Torres, and their children Samuel, Paulo, Gabriela, Manuel Felipe, and soon Francisco, due in May. A Mass will be held Saturday, March 10, 11am at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 708 W. Belmont, with a party afterwards at Bonnie’s house. Memorial Visitation will begin 45 minutes before the Mass in the back of the church, where guests are encouraged to fill out register books with their memories of Bonnie. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made in Bonnie’s name to The Night Ministry ( or Lakeview Pantry ( Info – Lakeview Funeral Home, 773-472-6300 or