bonfield.jpgFoundation funds a testament to donor’s love for family

Like her contemporaries, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, Mary Barrock Bonfield had regal charm, without the crown.

Family members describe her as classy and captivating. Whether working as the office manager at her father’s downtown law practice or later teaching at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, she was often the center of attention.

Her focus, however, was on her family and her husband and she did not hesitate to show devotion to either. She lived in the same condo building as her mother for many years and doted on her niece and nephews. After the death of her father and her husband, she kept their Cadillacs and faithfully had them restored. She lovingly kept family furniture and other belongings.

Certain things she kept private, however, namely her finances and her final wish of honoring loved ones. In fact, her brother, Robert, and his son, Christian, did not learn about her relationship with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation until after her death from cancer in 2007.

With her will, as well as with other passions or pursuits "she put a lot of thought and effort and heart and soul into everything she did," Christian said. "She had everything planned out and boy, did she have a plan."

Rather than creating one designated fund supporting various charities or a broad field of interest fund, Barrock Bonfield specified four unique funds. Two funds named after her and her late husband, William A. Bonfield Jr., celebrate areas important to them, namely, their passion for the arts and their alma maters – Ohio University’s College of Business and Divine Savior Holy Angels High School. Two funds named after her parents, George and Margaret Barrock, provide scholarships to students at Mount Mary University and her father’s alma mater, Marquette University Law School, among other interests. An annual law school lecture also honors the couple.

Given his aunt’s attention to detail and the Foundation’s dedication to carrying out her wishes, the family has had very few decisions to make regarding her funds. But that does not diminish the pride that such involvement brings.

"Knowing that our family is contributing in some meaningful way on a regular basis is very humbling," Christian said.