In Memoriam – January 2020

Bonte drew on disability to help others Dr. Brian Bonte drew on his medical background and personal experience with disability […]

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Bonte drew on disability to help others

Dr. Brian Bonte drew on his medical background and personal experience with disability to serve other Minnesotans with disabilities. Bonte died in December after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis. He was 62 and lived in Hutchinson. 

Dr. Brian Bonte

Born in 1957 in Belmond, Iowa, he attended Wartburg College and the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He began his medical practice in North Dakota in 198, later moving to South Dakota and then to Hutchinson in 1991 where he began his practice with the Hutchinson Clinic. 

In 1992, Bonte was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Despite challenges he continued his practice full-time before retiring in July 2019. He served several years as the McLeod County coroner and as president of the Minnesota Board of Coroners. 

Bonte served on the Minnesota Council on Disability and was a certified accessibility specialist. He was a board member of the Aveyron Homes in Hutchinson, was a volunteer physician at a free clinic sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and served as director and trainer for the Buffalo Lake Ambulance Service for several years. 

Bonte is survived by his wife Beverly Park Bonte, daughters Bridgett and Beatrice and their families, brothers and their families, and other family members and friends. Services have been held. 

Drewry served on state council

Geraldine (Gerry) Markley Drewry died in December. She was 89 and most recently lived in Northfield, after several years in Hampton. 

Geraldine (Gerry) Markley Drewry

A native of St. Paul, Drewry began her career as the first woman on the newsroom copy desk at the Minneapolis Star. After marriage she and husband Stanly moved to a Dakota County farm where she raised seven children. She worked in communications for much of her adult life, at the Dakota County Tribune and at Honeywell and at the state. 

She was an officer and board member of Minnesota AccessAbility and served on the Minnesota Council on Disability. She was also involved in many political campaigns and volunteer and church activities. A special focus was gardening and working to have her farm designated as a nature area. 

Survivors include her children and their families, and other family members and friends. Services are January 11 in Cannon Falls. 

Wertz used unique communication system

Florence Carlson Wertz was an educator and speech therapist who used an early language based on symbols to help people with disabilities communicate. Wertz died in December. She was 96 and was a longtime Twin Cities resident. 

Florence Carlson Wertz

She was a graduate of Augustana College, Rock Island, with a degree in speech therapy. There she met her first husband, John Wertz. After marriage they followed his academic career to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and then to the University of Minnesota in 1945, they moved to St. Paul where they raised their family. 

Starting in 1951 she worked as a speech pathologist for Minneapolis Public Schools, with much of her career at Michael Dowling School, which serves children with disabilities. She retired in 1984. 

Wertz advocated for children with severe disabilities and helped them learn the Blissymbolics or Bliss method of communication. Bliss became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as an approach to augmentative and alternative communication. Wertz taught, used and presented professionally on Bliss as part of her work. One of her projects was to help computerize Bliss for early Apple computers. 

She was involved in many church and community activities and enjoyed the arts, travel and family activities. 

Wertz is survived by her children and their families. Services have been held. 

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