During his junior year at The Lawrenceville School, Bert Bonner was struggling academically. His comprehension suffered as the reading matter and volume intensified, and Lawrenceville in the 1960s wasn’t equipped to diagnose his dyslexia. Fortunately, Bonner was spending his summer at Long Lake Lodge in Maine, a camp run by Jack Karpoe. “I attended Long Lake to get some academic help. After Lawrenceville suggested I find a new school, my parents called Mr. Karpoe. He said, ‘Bert should come to T-P next year.’”
“Trinity-Pawling saved my life. I had been floundering at my previous school and pretty depressed. T-P turned me around, taught me how to cope, and provided me the tools to learn and the will to succeed. Paul Miller was my junior year roommate, and we’re still good friends. Years later, we traveled the world together as he raced cars; I was happy to be his go-fer.”
Bonner roomed with prefect Chris Doyle his senior year. Five years later, Matt Dann tapped the duo to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Trinity Schools Corporation as T-P’s leadership transitioned from Dann to Phil Smith. “It’s hard to fathom now, but there we were, a pair of 22-year olds, sitting on this prestigious Board with New York’s elite financiers and power brokers. It was a real eye-opener to be among people like that. We just listened and kept our mouths shut!”
Bonner spent his career in real estate development and property management, inheriting his father’s business acumen and work ethic. He retired to Florida in 1998. “After playing golf for the first 21 days, I realized there had to be something more meaningful. So I started to tutor adults and do other volunteer work. Another friend and I bought recession foreclosures and flipped or rented them. We just sold our final property last week, so now I have officially retired… again.” Although Bonner no longer skis, he keeps active with golf and singing in three different groups.
Bonner is proud of how Trinity-Pawling has evolved over the decades and continues to support the School. He notes that there are three ways to contribute to a school or organization: work, wisdom, or wealth. “My parents established the Bonner Foundation and dedicated their estates to support college scholarships and help churches that feed the poor and hungry. Growing up surrounded by these values clearly impacted me. Patty and I have committed our own estates to education, medical institutions, and literacy. Trinity-Pawling is at the top of that list. It’s been a good ride, and Patty and I feel fortunate to be able to give back to a school that gave me so much.”