Janet Power Bonaparte

​ Robert E.L. Bonaparte
Wednesday August 01, 2018 - 11:22:00 AM

Janet Power Bonaparte, age 91, died peacefully surrounded by family on July 22, 2018, at her home on Lummi Island, Washington following a recent diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. 

Janet’s great grandfather Michael Power left Waterford County, Ireland in 1848 for the California gold rush, and founded the Hidden Treasure Gold Mine near Auburn, California. Her grandfather Harold Power served as a California state senator. Her father Edward James Power was a founder of the University of California at Irvine. Her mother Ruth Janet Visel was one of the early graduates of Stanford University. 

Janet followed in the footsteps of her accomplished Power ancestors. She was a sailing champion in her youth in Newport Beach, California, and raced with future America’s Cup winner Bill Ficker. She became the first woman to win Southern California’s Flight of the Snowbirds, and her photograph with Humphrey Bogart was plastered in the newspapers. Janet graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA degree in Political Science and was a member of the Prytanean Honor Society. Before attending UC Berkeley she graduated from the Anoakia boarding school in Arcadia, California. She earned her Master’s in Library Science from the University of Portland, and served as the circulation librarian at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. 

Janet met her fiancé on a ship to Europe, when both were leaders of student groups volunteering to rebuild democratic institutions in Europe after WWII. After an entirely epistolary courtship, on July 8, 1950, she married Robert Lee Bonaparte, a forest products executive who became vice president of Boise Cascade Corporation. The family lived in Palo Alto, California, Vancouver, BC, San Marino, CA, Boise, ID, and Portland, OR. 

Janet, along with her husband Robert, and Jack and Jamie Davies, co-founded Schramsberg Vineyards in the mid-1960s in Calistoga, California, and was a lifetime ambassador for California sparkling wine. 

Janet moved to Lummi Island in the early 1980s, and created a family refuge overlooking Bellingham Bay and Mount Baker. She was a lifelong environmentalist both in word and deed. Along with family and friends, she helped spearhead a successful campaign to acquire the recently abandoned quarry near Abner Point on Lummi Island and to preserve the land for public use following restoration. Part of the property will forever be known as Bing’s Beach, using the affectionate name she was called by her nine grandchildren. 

Janet resisted the temptation to settle into familiar rhythms when she moved to Lummi Island for her next chapter. Her curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit accelerated as she joined writing groups, and created and sold a myriad of island-themed designs. She was an avid fly fisher, and admirers exclaimed that “fish trembled at the sound of her name.” 

Janet’s circle of friends and admirers bridged several generations. Her youthful enthusiasm was a beacon for all who loved the way she embraced the best that life had to offer. 

Janet and her husband had four children. Renee Erickson (Rolf), age 64, of Fairfield, IA; Robert Bonaparte (Nell), age 62, of Portland, OR; Anne Bonaparte (Judd Williams) age 60, of Mill Valley, CA; and Ruth Mohanram (Narayan) age 57 of Sunnyvale, CA. Janet was a proud grandmother of nine grandchildren, each of whom visited Lummi Island alone for a week at the age of six. Bobby, age 31 of Portland, OR; Ian, age 28, of New York, NY; Lucy, age 28, of Pittsburgh, PA; Josephine, age 26 of Berkeley, CA; Margaret, age 26 of San Francisco, CA; Scott, age 26 of Honolulu, HI; Angele, age 24 of Denver, CO; James, age 23 of Portland, OR; and Kevin, age 22, of Houston, TX. Janet was a delighted great grandmother of Darius Woika of Pittsburgh, PA. 

Janet’s family is appreciative of all of her friends who embraced her with their love and who made time to say thank you and good bye to Janet. A life well lived. 

Remembrances may be made to Lummi Island Heritage Trust, PO Box 158, Lummi Island, WA 98262. 

The family anticipates arranging a celebration of life in the fall.