On Jan. 19, World War II veteran Arthur Bonne celebrated his 100th birthday. One of West Hempstead’s most acclaimed and fascinating residents, Bonne was honored with a car parade in front of his Lakeview home. The parade, which included police, military jeeps, motorcycle clubs and the Batmobile, was organized by friends and family of Bonne.
In 2017, Bonne and his devoted daughter, Suzanne, were invited by West Hempstead Public Library Program Director Roseann Dorfman to give the community a presentation about Bonne’s full and extraordinary life. In addition to serving overseas in China, Burma and India, the centenarian is known for his many talents as a telephone engineer, inventor, artist, photographer, husband, father and community leader.
Bonne was born in Brooklyn in 1921 and moved to Lakeview in 1924. He was drafted in 1942 at the age of 21. Assigned to work as a control tower radio operator at airfields in India from 1944 to 1946, he avoided combat.
He was also a cartoonist who drew illustrations of life in India. He would send letters with his illustrations to his wife, Anna. The two, who grew up together, had three children, Barbara, Suzanne and Craig.
Bonne’s time in the Army was disturbed on April 14, 1944, by the Bombay bombing, which killed about 1,300 people. He was just a few hundred feet away from the blasts.
Shortly after he completed his military service in 1946, Bonne worked as a telephone engineer for several decades. . He also became involved in his church and started the Hempstead Conservative Club. Today, he still draws and fixes radios, and he plays the harmonica in his spare time. In 2016, his name was added to the Walls of Honor, a memorial for veterans at Eisenhower Park. He has also been a longtime member of West Hempstead’s American Legion Robert Van Cott Post 1139.
Courtesy West Hempstead Historical Society; compiled by Nakeem Grant