Known as Kaysville’s preeminent writer / journalist
Kaysville’s undisputed master writer was Mary Bonnemort Bowring. Mary penned poems, one-act plays, roadshow scripts, satirical stories, Kaysville Civic Assn. historical sketches, humorous readings, and newspaper columns, one entitled” Mary’s Meanderings,” which won her statewide journalistic honors. For many years, Mary worked as a reporter and new editor for The Weekly Reflex. Then, after the Reflex closed, she penned a very successful and popular Deseret News column called “Past Sixty and Still Smiling.” She was considered a friend by hundreds of Davis County residents and her love for her hometown was unequaled.
Mary Katherine Bonnemort was born in Kaysville on June 16, 1916, the daughter of Nicholas and Mary Ethel Stewart Bonnemort. Her first home was the beautiful turreted Victorian house on the corner of 100 North and 200 West – known to Kaysville residents as the Stewart-Bonnemort home. Mary’s grandfather, Hyrum Stewart, built this home in the 1890s.
Mary attended local schools and then enrolled at the University of Utah. As a youth, Mary excelled as a performer. She loved to act. Her roles in Davis High School plays and in the productions of the Kaysville Dramatic Society in the 1930s were highly praised; and, while at the U of U, she was a frequent player in the U’s Play Box Theatre. Also, she gave hundreds of humorous readings and performed theatrical skits at Kaysville carnivals and other religious and civic gatherings. Many Kaysville residents thought Mary was well equipped to pursue a career in acting. However, she chose journalism instead but didn’t abandon performing.
After college, Mary worked for a time as a teacher and then was the Davis County deputy recorder. She started working as a reporter for The Weekly Reflex in the 1940s. After joining the newspaper staff, her writing talent was immediately recognized. Al Epperson, the paper’s publisher/editor, cultivated Mary’s writing skills by allowing her to chase many important Davis County news stories.
However, Mary’s newspaper career was briefly interrupted when she married. On April 6, 1946, Mary married Wisconsin native Randall C. Bowring. The young couple set up housekeeping in Kaysville and started a family. Eventually, the Bowring family would include four children, Dorothy, Rena, Stewart, and Mary Jane.
In 1951, Mary and friend, Lucille Kennah, wrote and produced a vaudeville program called “The Phantom of the Old Opera House.” This theatrical presentation, performed by local actors, was given at the Kaysville LDS Ward’s centennial celebration and the dedication of the Kaysville Tabernacle’s first major renovation. After this “swan song” performance, the old Kaysville Meetinghouse/Opera House was taken down. Glowing reviews of the “Phantom” production were printed in several Utah newspapers.
Few people in Davis County missed reading Mary’s Weekly Reflex column “Mary’s Meanderings,” which first appeared on January 10, 1952. The scope of Mary’s writing in this column was phenomenal. She interviewed and wrote about many well-known county citizens. She also wrote about holidays, school, housekeeping, parenting, unusual hobbies, washing, ironing and cooking, as well as local and national events. She was often complimented for highlighting local citizens and celebrities without mentioning the person’s name in the column. Reflex readers always knew who she was writing about even though names were never mentioned. The “Meanderings” columns were always filled with optimism, humor, and community promotion. In more than one column, Mary was the butt of her own jokes. For example, she claimed to be the “world’s worst modern housekeeper.”
Mary was also the editor/publisher of “The Clover,” a monthly magazine published for the employees of the Clover Club Foods Company. And, Mary’s very humorous personal history entitled “Growing Up, Growing Old in Kaysville” is available to read at the Davis County Library-Kaysville Branch.
Mention cannot be made of the Kaysville Dramatic Society, the Kaysville Civic Association, the PTA, the Kaysville Art Club, the League of Woman Voters, or the AAUW without recognizing Mary’s significant participation in these organizations. Her contributions to the City of Kaysville were many and most of these contributions were, at Mary’s request, unrecognized.
Mary Bonnemort Bowring passed away on October 25, 2002, at the age of eighty-six. She was buried in the Kaysville City Cemetery. A lifelong member of the Democratic Party, Mary insisted that the last line of her obituary read: “Everybody please remember to vote Democratic.”
“Kaysville Ladies of Note – Mary Bowring”, Our Kaysville Story Facebook post by Bill Sanders, October 20, 2021.
Photos courtesy of: Heritage Museum of Layton, The Weekly Reflex.