Gordon Llewellyn Bonser, champion of the natural world and its processes, was born May 13, 1950 and died December 20, 2018 in his home in McKinleyville. He was with his wife, Cathy Bonser, when the ravages of cancer ended his life.

Gordon was born in San Francisco to Quentin and Loellen Bonser, but spent most of his youth in Placerville, California where he met Cathy while attending El Dorado High School. Gordon was an athlete, the captain of the high school swim team and participated in other sports, but his focus was music and the cultural and natural world, interests shared by his life-long best friend Michael Rhodes.

Gordon attended college at the University of Oregon, U.C. Berkeley and Humboldt State University where he completed his work for a Master’s Degree in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis. During his 20s and 30s he developed his athletic life as a wildland forest fire fighter jumping from helicopters and as a member of the elite Redding Hot Shots. Between education and fire assignments his passion was long-distance bicycle adventure. He owned a successful mountain bicycle store in Pollock Pines and Cameron Park, California, before he thought it important to return to school to learn a craft which would visually prove to the world via maps the changes taking place which could be corrected by human interaction. He was vitally connected to the geography and culture of the planet and determined to carefully explain any questions to friends and family who turned to him for clarity. His degree in landscape planning gave him the vocabulary and tools needed to respond to many planned public land projects. He worked for many land protectors, most notably U.S. Forest Service and Geographic Survey and local colleges where he taught computer and mapping skills.

Gordon is survived by his wife, Cathy, with whom he shared his wit, knowledge and enduring love for 35 years. His daughter Lainey Bonser Gritts and her husband Billy Gritts, son-in-law John Bishop, grandchildren Greta Grace and Elia Laina Bishop, William and Harrison McDonald and Danika Gritts; mother, Loellen Rocca Bonser; sisters Patricia Bonser Sanford (Marty), Carol Gunter (Ernie) and brother Wayne Bonser also live on to remember Gordon. Gordon and Cathy’s daughter Heather Liberty Colleen Bonser-Bishop preceded him in death in 2012.

Remembrances may be made in his honor to Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC – www.wildcalifornia.org), a nonprofit land advocate Gordon supported for decades. Gordon lived to speak for the trees and in death, as in life, he swims with salmon.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Gordon Bonser’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.