Bonnie Maureen (Owens) Campbell

Bonnie Maureen (Owens) Campbell

Death 24 Apr 2006 (aged 76)
Burial Bakersfield, Kern County, California, USA
Memorial ID 14068011 · View Source
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Bonnie Maureen Campbell
Bonnie Maureen Campbell, best known as Bonnie Owens, was born at home on October 1, 1929 in Blanchard, Oklahoma to Wallace and Davis Campbell the fourth of six girls and two boys. She passed away on April 24, 2006 in Bakersfield, California at the age of 76 from Alzheimer's. Bonnie was thought of and loved with high regard professionally and personally. She was a gifted song writer and singer and a down-to-earth, warmhearted, happy and caring friend to everyone. She was Buck Owens first love and wife and a loving mother to her two sons, Buddy and Michael. She was also married to Merle Haggard and Fred McMillan. She was best known professionally as Merle Haggard's harmony and duet partner. Bonnie sang any time she had the chance, from the time she was a little girl of seven standing on a bale of hay in their barn with a broomstick as a microphone. Her sharecropper parents moved their family to Arizona when she was twelve years old. At sweet sixteen she met a boy named Buck Owens at the local skating rink. Bonnie auditioned to be the girl singer in Buck's band and naturally their love of music became their common thread. They soon fell in love with each other and they married in 1948 in Mesa, Arizona. They became parents to two sons, Buddy and Michael, who Bonnie referred to as her "biggest and best accomplishment Although Bonnie and Buck divorced they remained good friends throughout their years. Bonnie started her professional career as a singing cocktail waitress at the two best known Bakersfield honky-tonks, the Clover Club and the Blackboard, where she worked tables and joined in on stage to sing with the band. At the time she was also the female vocalist on the "Cousin Herb Trading Post" which aired daily on television in Bakersfield. While Bonnie's manager and close friend Fuzzy Owen was working with her on her blossoming singing career. Fuzzy started promoting a young unknown singer named Merle Haggard. While Bonnie and Merle were working together their friendship grew to love and they married in 1965. Bonnie toured with Merle Haggard and The Strangers for more than thirty years as an integral element of the band doing what she loved the most. Bonnie and Merle divorced during that time but remained good friends through it all. Bonnie loved to sing, and she sang country music with pure joy. Best of all, she shared her own special Bonnie brand of joy on and off the stage with everyone, devoted fans, friends and family alike. When she finally retired from the road she moved back to her beloved Bakersfield close to friends and family. Bonnie received many top industry awards during her singing career. She was the Academy of Country Music's "Top Female Vocalist" in 1965 and she received the Academy's "Best Vocal Group" in 1965 and 1966 and "Top Duo" in 1987 with Merle Haggard. Bonnie also recorded several albums with Capitol Records as a solo artist and received numerous awards for her talent as a songwriter. Bonnie's father and mother, Wallace and Davis Campbell, brothers Charley and Delmer and sisters Lucille and Jean preceded Bonnie in her death. In God's care Bonnie leaves behind to cherish her sweet loving memory sisters Betty, Gail and Loretta; son Buddy and wife Kathy; son Michael and wife Kristin; six grandchildren Paul, Doug, Amy, Corbet, Jan and Brent; Doug's wife Brandy, Amy's husband Shawn and Jan's husband Scott; three great grandchildren Macy, Jake and Hailee; friends Phyllis and Fuzzy Owen; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Her heart sang but it was her spirit and eyes that danced. It was in those soft warm eyes that we saw and felt only light and love. She cared for everyone. Her loving soul is at perfect rest now, renewed and restored. Bonnie is no doubt the lead angel singing harmony for all of heaven. "Mama, God is for you, Jesus is with you, the Holy Spirit is in you, and all of heaven's angels are by your side. And Mama, we love you more!" A public memorial service for Bonnie will be held on April 27th, 11:00 a.m. at Greenlawn Mortuary Southwest at 2739 Panama Lane in Bakersfield at the Chapel. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Bonnie's loving memory to Hoffmann Hospice, 5300 California Avenue Suite 1, Bakersfield, California 93309. Bonnie Maureen Campbell (Owens) Oct. 1, 1929 - Apr. 24, 2006">

Published in the Bakersfield Californian on 4/25/2006.

Bonnie Owens' life had challenges, charm
By ROBERT PRICE, Californian staff writer
e-mail: | Tuesday, Apr 25 2006 10:05 PM
Last Updated: Wednesday, Apr 26 2006 12:21 PM

I met Bonnie Owens in 1997 and liked her right away. Maybe it was because she treated me like a personal confidante almost from the moment I introduced myself.

Photo by Photo courtesy of Owens family
Bonnie Owens and her sons, Buddy and Michael Owens in a photo from Christmas 2004.
Haggard recalls muse, den mother
As I watched her that summer evening, chatting outside a recording studio with various people, some of them old friends, some of them first-time acquaintances, I realized the genuine warmth she'd shown was not a reflection on my alleged personal charm. It was just who she was.

Bonnie Campbell Owens, the singer and sometime-songwriter who died Monday at age 76, didn't know how to treat people any other way.

Maybe Bonnie, one of the most engaging personalities from Bakersfield's honky-tonk heyday, just lived in a perennial state of optimistic anticipation. What new adventure might come next? Since she seemed to live at the intersection of fame and redemption, she had every reason to expect that some new life-changing opportunity might be driving by at any moment.

She met Buck Owens, her first husband, at a skating rink in Mesa, Ariz., when she was 14. He played the guitar pretty well for a kid, but who could have forecast where he'd be 15 years later, churning out radio hits with Beatlesque regularity? Certainly not Bonnie. She liked Buck because she liked him; that was all. And she got two sons out of the deal.

She met Charles "Fuzzy" Owen at the Clover Club, where she worked as a cocktail waitress and occasionally belted out a song or two on stage. Fuzzy was still a few years away from becoming Merle Haggard's lifelong friend and manager. Who knew her waitressing job would lead to regional fame on the valley's first TV station alongside Fuzzy and honky-tonk impresario "Cousin" Herb Henson? Who could have expected that alongside Fuzzy -- "our lovebirds," as Cousin Herb called the two of them -- Bonnie would be pushed a little further toward her unique if underappreciated place in American music?

She met Haggard, her second husband, on that same TV show, and here began the most enduring relationship of her life. His tenor was magical, but he exuded a certain aura of danger and mystery no doubt enhanced by his ex-con status. Bonnie was drawn to him, and not because she aspired to ride his career coattails.

"I never knew they'd be big stars," she once said of her two famous husbands, "and I didn't care."

Bonnie Owens saw it all as it happened: The town's thriving juke-joint culture giving birth to something unexplainable but special. A time and a place, as unlikely an artistic crossroads as perhaps ever existed, spontaneously germinating at her feet.

Her life's trek took her from Oklahoma to Arizona to Bakersfield and, starting in 1965 with her association with Haggard, a thousand concert stages in between. Mrs. Bakersfield Sound rarely stood alone in the hot spotlight but rather somewhere on the periphery, more a nurturer of stars than a star herself.

But if they ever make a movie out of the Merle Haggard story (which, over the years, has been seriously discussed), or the long, complicated relationship between Haggard and Buck Owens, it ought to play out through the eyes of sweet Bonnie Owens, who loved them all during her challenging and charmed life.

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  • Created by: ladisatt
  • Added: 25 Apr 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 14068011
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bonnie Maureen (Owens) Campbell (1 Oct 1929–24 Apr 2006), Find A Grave Memorial no. 14068011, citing Greenlawn Southwest Mortuary and Cemetery, Bakersfield, Kern County, California, USA ; Maintained by ladisatt (contributor 46614911) .