Christopher C. Bonwit ’65

bonwitChristopher Call Bonwit, 69, departed this life peacefully on January 2, 2017 surrounded by his family at his home in Dunwoody, Georgia. He is survived by his loving wife of 44 years Gracemarie (Gem) and their sons Holden with wife Meagan, and Neville with wife Erin and children Katherine, Lindsay, Natalie, Kolby and Caedmon. He is also survived by his sister Elise Bonwit Dickinson with husband D. Edward and daughters Monica and Cara, and his brother Jonathan with wife Norah and sons Erik and Cameron.

Chris was born on October 16, 1947 in Hackensack, New Jersey, son of Charlotte and John Bonwit, Jr. For high school, he attended Williston Academy in Massachusetts, after which he was awarded a fellowship from the English-speaking Union to attend Brighton College in England for a post high school year of study. Following that, he attended the University of Notre Dame, courtesy of a scholarship from the US Navy ROTC program. During one of his memorable summer Navy deployments, Chris was attached to a German Navy fast patrol boat operating in the Baltic Sea; it was on that deployment that he began his appreciation of the German language, his favorite of the 6 languages that Chris spoke fluently. He graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and then served four years in the U.S. Navy in the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean on a variety of ships and missions, ultimately becoming Chief Engineer on the destroyer escort U.S.S. Badger.

In August of 1972, after a brief courtship, Chris joyously married Gem, who shared his passion for adventurous living.

Chris received his MBA from Wharton Business School and thereafter entered the engineering construction field with Dravo Corporation. From Pittsburgh, PA, he routinely traveled to Central and South America as a master negotiator for the company. During his time with Dravo, he lived in Mexico and Italy, often traveling to Eastern Europe and Africa for weeks at a time. The 3-year Italian experience was simply magical for the Bonwit family.

Switching careers, he joined Raychem Corporation and spent the next decade selling the telecommunications company’s breakthrough wire splicing and connector products. He greatly enjoyed the combination of outdoor work and traveling to various US and foreign locations. Of his many assignments with Raychem, his time in Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea were the most memorable.

Chris worked briefly with two other telecommunications companies, Dura-Line and Thomas & Betts, before ultimately landing his dream position as a Regional Director with the University of Notre Dame. Gem was especially pleased about this career switch as Chris was finally finished with international travel and was able to spend more time at home. Chris strongly believed in the mission of the University of Notre Dame and enjoyed doing his part to strengthen the many endeavors essential to the success of the University and its students. The close friendships that he formed with colleagues and benefactors of the University provided him with immeasurable joy.

He will be dearly missed by his devoted family, friends and colleagues.

3 thoughts on “Christopher C. Bonwit ’65”

  1. Chris was my roommate our first year at Williston. Our room was on the back porch with little to no heat in a dormitory on the Lower Middler campus whose name escapes me now. Chris was very organized with his schooling and his daily approach to what came next. He was an Eagle scout and a good roommate. His article describes a happy and successful life. We should all be as fortunate and blessed. Bill

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