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July 22, 1935 – April 10, 2020
Bonovia obit pic
Longtime Sonora resident Gail Richmond Bonavia, loving wife, mother, and accomplished equestrian, who was fully dedicated to her family, friends and faith, passed away peacefully April 10, 2020 in Oakdale. She was 84 years old.
Born on July 22, 1935 in Southern California, Gail was one of three children adopted and given a loving home by Dr. Cordelia “Doc” Richmond. As a young girl her family lived in Oregon and Claremont California, where she attended high school. Horse crazy from a young age, she worked at race tracks in the area just to be close to them, and they continued to be a lifelong passion.
The Richmond family spent many summers in Tuolumne, and her mother later retired there. In 1968 Gail moved to Tuolumne County, both to be closer to her mother and to raise her daughter. Gail quickly became an active and valued member of the community that she loved for more than 50 years. Early on she had a “Girl Friday” business, and over the years also did administrative work for local doctors’ offices, retiring after many years with Dr. Warren Borgquist.
In 1971 Gail married the love of her life, Francis “Casey” Bonavia. The two went on to build Rancho di Bellafortuna, a horse boarding and training facility. For decades the ranch drew people of all ages and abilities wanting to become better riders. Over the years they hosted many horsemanship clinics and became personal friends with such legendary horsemen as Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. Gail also helped several Tuolumne County girls prepare for and win Mother Lode Roundup queen titles.
Devoted Christians, Gail and her husband were active for many years in the Cowboy Country Church. In keeping with her faith, she was always quick to volunteer, donate to local causes and assist people in need, whether friend or stranger. Through the ranch, church and community involvement Gail was known for her strength, generosity, intelligence, sassy sense of humor and firm opinions on everything from politics to what books were worth reading. She was an excellent cook, loved to garden, play cards and spend time with the many horses, dogs and cats she cared for over the years.
Due to heart and respiratory issues, Gail moved to the Astoria Senior Living facility in Oakdale to be closer to her daughter. She was very grateful for the excellent care and love she received there.
In addition to her husband Casey Bonavia of Sonora, Gail is survived by her daughter Paula Vieira (Gary) of Oakdale, sister Ellen “Oma” Richmond (Linda) of Washington, stepdaughters Casey Lee Bonavia of Tuolumne, Lynn Dee Humphrey (Steve) of Sonora, Kelly Shepherd (Mike) of Oregon and grandchildren Kelsie, Karlie, Danny, Joel, Kaitlyn, Caralee, Brian, Corey, Aimee, Jeremy, Annie and numerous great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her brother David Richmond and stepdaughter Laurie Humphrey.
Gail also leaves behind dozens of friends whom she cherished and welcomed into her life and home as family. She will be deeply missed and forever in our hearts and memories.
A gathering to share stories, friendship and loving memories of Gail will be held at a later date.

The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader

May 13, 2020