Write Again… Who was this special man?
Published 1:43 pm Friday, September 30, 2022
Herbert Covington Bonner.
Some of us remember him. Some of us even knew him. Most people today, however, may be somewhat familiar with the name, but that’s probably the extent of it.
You know, time moves on.
So. Just who was Herbert C. Bonner? Well, from 1940 to 1965, he was our congressman. That was during the many years we were in the first congressional district. Not so any more.
In fact, from 1899 to 1965 all U.S. representatives in that district called our Washington home. Had homes here. Came here when congress was in recess.
Herbert Bonner loved to “hang out” at the fire station with his many friends. That was when there were only three or so paid firemen. It was called a volunteer fire department, and that’s what it was. My father loved spending time there. He was, for many years, a volunteer fireman. That always made me proud. That was in the day when it was located in what is now the Washington Daily News.
From 1925-40 Herbert Bonner was secretary to Lindsay Warren, then our U.S. Representative. The title “secretary” would now be “ad/ministrative assistant. “The real “go-to” man for those seeking constituent services.
So. When Representative Lindsay Warren was appointed Comptroller General of the U.S. by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, who better to take his place?
Then each succeeding election, until his untimely death in 1965, Bonner was elected.
Who was he, really? Let me give you a bit of bio information.
Born right here May 16, 1891, he was the son of Herbert M. and Hannah Hare Bonner. He married Eva Hassell Hackney, also of Washington. He was an Episcopalian, Elk, Mason, and Shriner.
A graduate of Graham School, of Warrenton, NC, he initially earned his livelihood as a salesman and in agricultural pursuits. Folks often quipped that he was a snuff salesman. That was one of his products.
During World War I he served as a sergeant in Company I, 322nd Infantry, with overseas service in the 81st Division.
Following his death, Bonner was eulogized by numerous members of Congress in January 1966.
Among the remarks given by the Honorable Harold D. Cooley of North
Carolina were, in part, the following:
“Mr. Speaker, we pause to pay tribute to our beloved colleague, Herbert Bonner, who has passed from the shores of sound to the realm of silence. He has answered his last roll call.
“By his intelligent devotion to duty, his great fidelity to truth, and by the honest and courageous manner in which he discharged all of the vital functions of high office, he endeared himself to his colleagues in Congress and his countrymen. Modesty and simplicity marked his life; truth was his master, and his unblemished character was the tower of his strength.”
So much more followed, even a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. Dozens of his colleagues also spoke of and about him, extolling his character and his service.
In all, he served from November 1940 to November 1965. When added to his years (fifteen) of service to Rep. Warren, and the people of the 1st Congressional District, he gave forty years of service to his constituents, his state, and to his nation. That, friends, is a rare and remarkable legacy.
Was I ever the beneficiary, directly so, of his service? Oh, yes. But that’s another story.
Herbert C. Bonner is interred in Oakdale Cemetery, right here in our beloved Little Washington.
He came home when his race was run.
NOTE – The source of much of the information was from a collection of eulogies of “Herbert C. Bonner Held in the House of Representatives and Senate of the United States” printed in 1966 by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.