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Welcome to the memorial page for

Susan Bonness

October 23, 1954 ~ June 14, 2017 (age 62)

A woman of many roles:  animal behavior expert, ultimate wife, excellent mother, comedian and master organizer.


Early in her life Sue developed a strong passion to understand animals and assist animal-lovers to build stronger relationships with their pets. Her education in zoology was a start on a life long journey to understand the science behind animal behavior.  While she was humble about her accomplishments over the years she had an impressive resume training dogs and over the years reached the pinnacle of obedience, confirmation and agility.  She would be annoyed if we did not mention her long pursued Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) which she gained with Christy, her long time canine partner on the show circuit.  Her bond with animals went well beyond training.  Her dogs Freddie, Fizzy and Flash each became dedicated service dogs that impressed all with their useful jobs.


Born in Iowa and raised in Wisconsin, Sue attended the University of Wisconsin.   She and Joe met in their late teens in Milwaukee in a large part due to their family’s mutual love of sailing. Their deep love of the outdoors, animals and music brought them together along with Sue’s quick whit. In their early years together they spent many days sailing, camping and going to concerts of the classic rock greats.


Shortly after the birth of Maggie they moved to Florida as Joe followed his father to the headquarters of the family road construction company where they started a new chapter in their life.


Sue is the most determined and organized person you could meet which fit her lifestyle well, given the high aspirations she had for herself, her husband Joe and daughter Maggie.  Leveraging her smarts and skills, she accomplished her personal goals in dog training. At the same time she was the ultimate “support crew” for Joe, as he trained and attained world class celebrity status as an Ironman triathlete.  Sue shared her passion for horses with Maggie at a young age and instilled in her the keys to success both in the horsemanship as well as professional world; hard work and adaptability.


Sue passed away after a long and courageous battle with diabetes.  We were blessed with 15 additional years with Sue due to the medical miracle of a double organ transplant. Sue would ask all to consider becoming an organ donor. Sue is survived by her husband Joe, daughter Maggie Thomason, grandson Ethan, parents Bob and Fran Way, and siblings Bobby Way and Sarah Linser.


In lieu of flowers, pleases donate to North Naples Rotary * in Sue’s name. Donations will support the Wheel Chair Foundation a program which supplies wheelchairs across the world to those in need delivering Hope, Mobility and Independence

* North Naples Rotary, P.O. Box 1370, Naples FL 34106.

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