Whitney C. Bonifant
August 15, 1941 – April 18, 2022
Whitney Crider Bonifant was born on August 15, 1941, to parents Frederick Crider Bonifant and Lila Polen Bonifant, in Zanesville, Ohio. He is survived by his bride, Sara Komen, sons from his first marriage, Brian (Penny) and David (Theresa), six grandchildren, sister Marsha Bonifant Ross, brothers Craig, Bruce, and Kevin, and many nieces and nephews.
The oldest of his five siblings, Whit was followed by Marsha, Craig, Bruce and Kevin. The family grew up in the small community of the Pottery Addition, in Steubenville, Ohio. His father was the superintendent of maintenance at the Pottery Plant. The siblings attended a three- room schoolhouse that taught grades 1-6 and spent their summers roaming the hillsides behind the house. They swam in creeks, and, on occasion, the Ohio river.
Growing up, Whit always loved watching planes fly over, on their way to the Pittsburg airport, and that fascination with flying and aircraft remained with him his entire life. Whit formally learned to fly as a student at Ohio University, and during those years, bought his first airplane. From college through the remainder of his life, Whit always owned and flew many types of aircraft.
Whit entered the Army in 1959, and was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He served his country in Vietnam as a Sergeant and learned how to parachute out of planes and fly helicopters. After serving 3 years in the Army, he attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and earned his bachelor’s degree. Whit later married his first wife, Joanne, in 1969. Whit was working for General Electric at the time, which brought him to Omaha, where he worked as an executive at General Electric’s Fort Calhoun power plant. They eventually built a house in Elkhorn where they raised their two sons, Brian and David. In 1976, Whit left General Electric for an executive position at Valmont Industries, where he had a distinguished career. Valmont sent Whit to Valmont-owned companies all over the world, to improve production methodologies. His stories of his travels for Valmont are legendary. Highly interested in shaping and growing businesses, Whit earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Omaha.
While living in Elkhorn, he and a friend built a plane from scratch in the garage, soaking wooden parts in the bathtub so they could be bent to the proper shape. When last he checked that plane was still flying somewhere in Europe. Whit was active for decades in shaping the North Omaha Airport, where he also hangared several planes, and where met his true love, Sara. After he retired from Valmont, Whit was a flight instructor, passing on his keen knowledge and love of flying to hundreds of students over many years.
Whit was a long-time and active member of the Omaha Soaring Club, where he was also an instructor, tow-plane pilot, and glider pilot. His other service to aviation included his service as a Captain in the Nebraska Civil Air Patrol, United States Air Force Auxiliary. In addition to these passions, Whit was elected to a Board position on the Cobalt Credit Union, and ultimately was elected as Vice Chairman of the Cobalt Board of Directors, where he was active in guiding and providing advice to the Credit Union on a wide range of financial and business matters.
Whit was a generous soul who gave his time freely and often. If you needed something, he was there for you. Whit was always building something or fixing one thing or another. Every inch of Sara and Whit’s house has been capably touched by Whit whether it be something hung, painted, fixed, built, or improved in any way. Whit was also very talented in the kitchen and loved perfecting his chef skills.
Active in his deep Christian faith, Whit attended Westside Church in Omaha, where his faith journey grew over many years of study and worship there, and where he eventually was called to lead a close-knit Wednesday night Bible Study Group.
Whit married Sara Komen in 2008, in St. Gerald’s Catholic Church, and they continued their close and loving marriage through the years. Whit was called home to God on April 18, 2022 and passed peacefully into the eternal hands of our Lord, surrounded by his wife Sara, their friends, and family.
Whit was a man of deep Christian faith, devotion to his Country, love of family and friends, and in reaching out to help others. If you were his friend, you were his brother. In a real but understated way, Whit was “larger than life”.
The Visitation for our beloved Whitney will be on Sunday, April 24th, between 2:00pm and 4:00 pm at the West Center Chapel.
The Funeral Mass will be held at 10am on Monday, April 25th, at Christ the King Catholic Church, 654 S. 86th St., Omaha, NE.
Whit will be laid to rest at Omaha National Cemetery, 14250 Schram Road, Omaha, at 1:00 pm, on Monday, April 25th. He will receive full military honors for his honorable service in the United States’ Army, 82nd Airborne Division.
Be truly comforted that he deeply loved all of us, all his family, and all his friends. We will miss him more than words or hearts can ever express, but we know that we will one day be joyfully reunited with him in Heaven.