Thursday, February 12, 2015

Memories of Jack Bonitz live on in Leetonia

This photo was taken December 2009.  Uncle Jack (standing near bear) joined the Bear Kill club.  He is pictured here with Leann's Dad Bob in wheelchair.  (Who passed 3/2010). Leann swears it was one of his best days ever.  He drove for miles to show his friends what he bagged.  The bear was shot in Linglestown, PA area on Bob’s farm.   Jack shot many many deer in Leetonia along with turkey, grouse and a prized Bob Cat. Trout never had a chance if he was on the stream.  He was a friend to all and was well known at the local watering holes throughout Potter and Tioga county. Emailed from Leann Creamer.
Jack never let a guest go without a drink if you visited him. He was a welcoming host and a teller of tales about his adventures in Leetonia.
One of Jack's friends said: Jack is the last of the Leetonia first Generation. You'll be missed but we are happy you are with your family and life friends in heaven telling your Jack tales. We miss you, your council, your tall tales, but not taking our money.To clarify the taking of money...many a poker game was played during a dark night playing cards  and smoking cigars with his friends in Leetonia.

I remember Jack telling a couple of stories to me he claimed to be true. I will let you decide.

The Bear Incident

Jack told me he got so mad at a bear stealing the corn he put out for the deer he climbed on top of the feeder(which is at least 9' high) and waited for the bear with a bat. When the bear came he jumped down and gave him a good whacking. The bear didn't come back.

Legend of the lost wheels

He said one night he was in town at his favorite pub and it started to snow very hard. He said they got a couple feet of snow. But this did not stop Jack from driving back to camp on unplowed roads. He said he doesn't remember much of the drive, but the next morning when he got up two of the wheels and tires were gone on his truck. He claims the deep snow kept his truck up so he was able to make it back. He never did find those tires.

The Fish Story to top all fish stories

Jack claims he caught a 18" trout in the stream(No one doubts his ability to catch trout). But what happened next might be a stretch. Before he could land the trout a 24 " trout came along and grabbed the other trout. He claims to have landed both fish at the same time.


The Bonitz camp is on the what is called the "boneyard," where they buried a lot of cow bones. It was also the spot for the old Leetonia School House. The property was owned by Frank Wilsbach and sold to Jack's father John Bonitz. They built the existing cabin around 1958.

Jack joins many other hunting and fishing enthusiasts as well as lovers of Leetonia that now roam the woods loving every minute and sharing their tales with each other. RIP Jack from the Mountain girls, Paula and Lee Anne

reprint of
Jack's Obituary in Harrisburg Paper 
On the evening of Saturday, February 7th, 2015, John T. "Jack" Bonitz, Jr., 80, of Harrisburg, passed away, peacefully, surrounded by his family at the Community Campus of Pinnacle Health, Harrisburg, PA.
Jack was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 19th, 1934; the oldest child of John T. Bonitz, Sr. and Sylvia M. (De Dee) Bonitz. Jack grew up spending much of his time trapping, hunting, and fishing. He was happiest while spending time at the family cabin in the mountains, fly fishing for trout. He loved to duck hunt and spent many endless days fishing on the Susquehanna River. In his later years, Jack enjoyed spending time in Ocean City, NJ, deep sea fishing and spending time with family and friends.
After graduating high school, Jack enlisted in the reserves. He served on the USS Albany and was honorably discharged in 1961. He attended college in Elizabethtown and worked for the family business, Bonnyview Development. He co-owned Bonitz Bros. Wholesale Sporting Goods. Jack loved to travel and visit with other business owners along the east coast. Later, when he partially retired, he worked for Faber Brothers and often earned top awards for being an outstanding salesman.
Jack received his Eagle Scout Award in 1949, while a member of Troop 79 in Progress. Jack was a Navy veteran, and a member of the Linglestown American Legion Post #272, and the Masonic Perseverance Lodge 21 F & A.M., Harrisburg Consistory. 
In 1957, Jack married Sally Clark (Winand). They had three children together. Jack is preceded in death by his mother and father, both paternal and maternal grandparents, many aunts and uncles as well as his brother, Robert "Bob" Bonitz, Sr., and his second wife, Kathy Fox. Jack is survived by his daughter Cindy Bonitz-Ryan and her companion Ron Reed of Bayfield, CO, son John T. Bonitz III and his wife Christine of Harrisburg, and daughter Cathy Bonitz-Eakin and her husband Kirk of Mechanicsburg; his nine grandchildren, Weylin Ryan, Ricky Ryan, Nolan Reed, Casey Reed, Steffanye Hawbaker Mack, Paige Bonitz, Ryan, Haley and Ashley Eakin. Jack is also survived by his sister-in-law, Ann Bonitz, his niece, Leann Bonitz Craemer, and nephew Robert Bonitz, Jr. , all of Harrisburg and his companion Carolyn Adams.
Please join the family at a Celebration of Jack's Life on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 11 am at the Hetrick-Bitner Funeral Home, with Rev. Nathan C. Minnich, officiating. There will be a visitation from 10-11 am at the funeral home with a masonic service at 10:50 am. Graveside services will be held privately at a later date.


rockhouse said...


Great article, but which one is Jack & Bob in the photo ?

Hope winter is easing up on you guys, but see you might be in for some bad weather this weekend.

Winter is easing up for us here in Colorado.


eaglebear said...

Ken left this and I accidently deleted sorry he it is.

RIP Jack. I remember Bonitz Bros. in Harrisburg. Any sporting equipment you bought in the midstate area came through them. Ironic that the bear was taken in the Harrisburg suburbs rather than Leetonia. Good stuff as usual , Paula.

rockhouse said...


Was Jack a member of any camp in Leetonia ? Possibly next to the old Ottman Camp......


eaglebear said...

Jack was at the Valley Hi Camp a lot, which is across from old Ottman camp, but never a member.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the nice Blog. He was a great man...just like his dad and his brother.