Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I was a very privileged, and now very saddened friend of Paul Bonart whom I met in Berkeley, CA in 1990. I am a violinist/composer from Japan living in NYC; I was introduced to Paul and Bertha by Julia Taylor, (Edward Fletcher's grandmother) whom the Bonarts knew back in their Rochester days. I met Julie in Boston, with whom I share a wonderful family connection to the DeGogorzas, through my parents who came to study to Boston from Japan.

After Bertha's passing, when Paul was very depressed, I used to call him from NYC to see how he was doing. A few months later, he would say, "Guess what, I'm the most eligible bachelor in North Berkeley!" saying all the widows around the neighborhood would bring him food, and took care of him. But his void was vast. Then, one day, he called and said, "Guess what, Mari". So I said, "Did you get married?" :)

I met Margaret on my next visit to Berkeley, and saw how completely transformed Paul was: radiant, happy and full of life with his beautiful and spirited Margaret. Of course I was told by both, their history in Brazil and wonderful tales there. I treasured our breakfasts, long talks in the evening, about art, politics, music, and history.

Shortly after Bertha's passing, to ease passing time, I am one of his friends to encourage writing his memoire. He would say, "But I wouldn't know where to begin.. there are so much to be said". So, being in a creative profession which I know that one needs to start a project from total zero, from scratch, I said to him, "Well, just make an appointment with yourself once a day in a morning to put you in front of your typewriter, then commit to write one page a day... You don't even have to decide what to write; it can be about yesterday, or 1933, or 1940, Rochester or Brazil days.. Just mark on the top of the page the dates/topic and later you can sort them!". I was very happy that he adopted this method, soon saying, "Mari, it works! I am writing every day!".

Therefore it was my privilege and honor to know that his book was finally finished, published, and his remarkable experience is now known to the public. When my French husband Hervé Brönnimann wrote a review on which he checked often, Paul was very happy saying that he really appreciated Hervé's comment, since it comes from an European view. I had also sent a copy to a renown French composer Jean-Claude Risset (b. 1938), who was just here last week and learned about Paul's passing. Mr. Risset was very impressed with Paul's account, and said also quite haunted by the book; he said he learned some new information that, how quickly Nazi had spread and earlier than previously thought. I was also able to relay Mr. Risset's reaction of the book to Paul, which he appreciated very much.

After Paul and Margaret moved to Huntington Beach, it was more difficult for me to come visit often enough. In fact I think I only managed two times. He would always remember my birthday and call me up in New York; he would call me from time to time to see how I was doing, always encouraging me. He would be concerned for my two young children, one of whom is diagnosed with slight Autism spectrum disorder. He was very happy that my first solo CD came out; he was my constant, warm, always encouraging supporter. He had only a nurturing and creative, progressive thoughts, never ever cynical about life. Paul is a towering example for me how to live your life to the fullest, every single day of your life.

I would like to thank you [Paula Spence], and the Spence family. After marrying Margaret, Paul said that he gained not only a wife but the entire relatives; all of the sudden he had children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. His late life was filled with family and company, and we, friends of Paul, owe so much to you adopting him so naturally and warmly as your own.

As I type this letter I cannot stop but to feel extreme sadness and loss. The world lost a remarkable human being who lived quietly, but lead an active, honest, and beautiful life who contributed so much to the world. I lost one of the most remarkable friends in my life.

-Mari Kimura

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