Bonita (Bonny) Driver, who embodied God’s welcoming love on three continents as a mission worker for more than 40 years, died Dec. 24 at Greencroft Retirement Community in Goshen, Ind., at the age of 96.
She and her husband, John, served through Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor of Mennonite Mission Network, from 1951 to 1994.
Born May 16, 1924, to Ethel and Noah Landis in Estherville, Iowa, she grew up in Alpha, Minn., and attended Hesston Academy in Kansas, where she met John Driver.
In 1946, she completed nursing studies at the Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing in La Junta, Colo. That same year, she married John, and they went to Puerto Rico with Mennonite Central Committee for a three-year assignment. She worked as a registered nurse at the Mennonite Hospital in La Plata.
In 1951, shortly after their first child was born, the Drivers returned to Puerto Rico, this time with MBM. They pastored congregations in five locations. Their other two children were born in Puerto Rico.
In 1967, the Driver family moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, to work at the Mennonite seminary, Seminario Evangélico Menonita de Teología.
Eight years later, the Drivers were called to Spain, where they walked alongside congregations in Madrid, Burgos and Barcelona and helped build a residence for elderly people in Barcelona. In Spain, the Drivers discovered the importance of living in community and doing mission within —and outside of — the church.
From 1980 to 1994, the Drivers served in Argentina, Uruguay and Spain. After their official retirement in 1989, they continued serving with MMN in short-term assignments.
Driver was also active at East Goshen Mennonite Church and in the community. She volunteered at Mennonite Central Committee’s Depot, Maple City Health Care Clinic, Center for Healing and Hope and Greencroft.
María Martinez Garcia, who worked as a nurse with Driver at Hogar de Paz (House of Peace), a Mennonite hospice in Barcelona for people living with HIV/AIDS, wrote that she learned to practice her faith from Driver. “I’ve always believed that you are the pure reflection of the Lord here on earth,” María wrote in a note of gratitude and love. “God blessed us by sending us flesh-and-blood angels.”
She is survived by John, her husband of 74 years; children Cynthia (James Rempel) Driver, Fred (Joyce Meyer) Driver, and Jonathan Driver; two grandsons; sisters Berniece Nafziger and Vivian Murray and brother Fred Landis.