Evangelist, pastor and entrepreneur Bonnie Grisham of Lovell finished her race on June 28, 2019. She was 83.
Born Dec. 11 , 1935, in Miami Beach, Fla., Veleria Bonnell was born to Oscar “Buford” and Elizabeth Cox, just months after the first Category 5 and most intense Atlantic hurricane on record made landfall. Her mother Elizabeth was diagnosed with a severe illness and took her young children to live with her family, while Buford looked for work. Elizabeth was healed, and in 1944 experienced a radical conversion at a Church of God revival, in Norfolk, Va.
After the family moved to Bessemer, Ala., in 1945, Bonnie’s mother felt called to minister. She traveled all over the region, children in tow, preaching at small, local churches, in tent revivals and at church conventions. Bonnie began preaching with her mother when she was 15 years old.
Bonnie graduated from McAdory High School, Bessemer, Ala., in 1954. She traveled as an evangelist through her 20s, until she met a sailor, James Grisham. She was ministering at a church in California, near where he was stationed.
On Jan. 25, 1964, they were married and began Navy life together. They were relocated across the east coast, before moving to Groton, Conn., in 1971. As they grew to a family of 6, and her husband spent more time at sea, Bonnie began traveling less, and instead pastored local churches.
Jim and Bonnie Grisham moved to the Big Horn Basin in 1994. They believed in Lovell and the surrounding community, even during an economic downturn. They purchased a local motel and a hardware store. They expanded, first adding a lumber yard, and then built a 5,000-plus square feet building, now known as Lovell Building Center.
In February 2019, Bonnie was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Faced with the end of her life, Bonnie never expressed fear of dying, just a fear that she hadn’t done enough in her life to reach “the lost,” people who didn’t know her Jesus. When she could no longer recognize her husband, her children, nor even where she was, she would sing.
She would sing for hours, over and over again, with tears streaming down her face, “when He calls, I will answer. I’ll be found working for my Lord.” When everything that could be shaken was shaken, all that was left was that sincere cry in her heart. She ran her race to the very end.
Bonnie Grisham is survived by her husband, Jim; children Jazmyn, Steve, Regena and Tina; six grandchildren Elisabeth, Alex, Zachary, Rachel, Moriah, Schuylar and Hayden; eight great-grandchildren; her brother Gerald, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Join us in remembering Bonnie Grisham, on Sunday, July 21. The celebration of her life will begin at 3 p.m. at Assembly of God Church, located at 320 Idaho Avenue in Lovell.