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Spotlight: Happy Birthday, Miss Bonnie

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Spotlight: Happy Birthday, Miss Bonnie

Date Published:
Monday, June 16, 2014

In September 1969, I became UNC Charlotte's first registered dorm student (I found this out a few years later from then Director of Residence Life, G. John Simmons, Jr,. who at the time was writing a history of UNC Charlotte). Because I was an out-of-state student, Mr. Simmons allowed me to spend the night in the dorm, thus alleviating the need for my parents to spend an additional night in a motel. At the time, Moore Hall, the men’s dorm, had not yet been completed, so males occupied the upper four floors of Sanford Hall until Thanksgiving. So on that first night, I was the only person in the entire dorm.

I unpacked my bags, put an album (remember those?) on the record player, and started to settle in for the night when I heard a knock at the door. A sophomore student named Chris Dooley was driving by campus, noticed a light on in the front of the dorm, and decided to check it out. He was quite friendly and talkative, and we discussed campus life, professors, music, etc. After a few minutes, there was another knock on the door, and a tiny woman appeared with a plate of brownies. "You must be John. I heard you were here all by yourself, so I thought I'd bring you something to eat."

This month, we are celebrating the 107th birthday of our founder, Bonnie Cone. Some of the most fascinating stories about Miss Bonnie come from former students, such as this one. We invite you to Stake Your Claim by sharing your own memories of Miss Bonnie on Facebook.

Chris saw this little woman, and jumped out of his chair.

"Hi, Miss Bonnie. I’m coming back to school again this year."

"Well, that’s wonderful Chris. I hope you have a good semester. How’s your family?"

They spoke for a few more minutes, and then Miss Bonnie told me to just keep the plate - it was an old one and she had plenty of them at home. And then she left. I thought to myself, "The maids sure are friendly here. I think I’m going to like this place."

A few days later, I went to freshman orientation in the Student Union’s "Parquet Room" and sat in the back paying only scant attention to the proceedings. But I was jolted alert when Chancellor Colvard introduced the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. And he introduced her as "Miss Bonnie." I was absolutely stunned. The friendly little maid turned out to be the founder of the University!

Over the next few years, I would occasionally run into Miss Bonnie on campus, and she was always friendly and supportive to everybody. She simply had the gift of the personal touch.

So fast forward twenty years or so. My wife, who I had met at UNC Charlotte, was working in the office at Countryside Montessori School in University Place. On that day, Miss Bonnie was touring University Place with a group of dignitaries, and one of the stops was at my wife’s school. My wife immediately recognized her and said, "Hi, Ms. Bonnie. I don’t think we ever met, but you might remember my husband. He was UNC Charlotte’s first dorm student, and you brought him a plate of brownies back in 1970." "Oh, yes," Miss Bonnie replied, "I remember John. And it was 1969, honey."

That was Miss Bonnie.

This remembrance is from alumnus John Erickson, (B.A. ’74, M.A. ’80).