Long-time trade justice and worker rights advocate Daniel Bonham died while hiking at Silver Falls State Park on March 2. Through-and-through, Daniel epitomized the passion and dedication that’s needed to create a more just society. He lived out his beliefs in a quiet and steady, yet self-assured, way, and seemed to be constantly seeking out new ways of engaging with and expanding his community.
Please help Daniel’s family through this trying time by making a contribution to the Daniel F. Bonham Memorial Fund. You can drop off a donation at any West Coast Bank location or mail a check made out to “Daniel F. Bonham Memorial Fund” to: West Coast Bank; PO Box 827 (MS 143); Salem, OR 97308
Daniel Bonham first became involved with the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign as a Carpenter active in PCASC’s Cross Border Labor Organizing Council, when he began to serve on our steering committee and, then eventually, as an officer on our Board of Directors. Professionally, Daniel also served for many years as the Executive Director of the Fair Contracting Foundation, and more recently as a private investigator, fighting to ensure that men and women working on construction projects received the full compensation to which they were entitled. He was active in the trade justice struggle, his union, Latin American solidarity, third-party politics and a host of other progressive causes.
Daniel always worked incredibly hard when it came to demanding that people’s rights be respected. He was never afraid to step up and grab the megaphone and speak out, but he also never shied away from the grunt work that makes effective organizing possible, and he was almost ridiculously committed to seeing that that nuts-and-bolts work got done.
Daniel was ORFTC’s Secretary-Treasurer and would come into the office to check our books quarterly. One of the last times he was here, he walked in the door apologizing for being a few minutes late. A car had stopped short in front of him, and to avoid a full-on crash, he’d had to intentionally wipe out his motorcycle. He sat down with our financial reports, and ORFTC director Arthur Stamoulis noticed that the right side of his jeans were completely shredded and even some patches of his leather jacket were worn through. He had some nasty looking road rash underneath, and Arthur asked him if he needed to go to the emergency room. No, Daniel said, but maybe he would go to the bathroom to wash things out after spot-checking a few more receipts. As much as we’ve come to expect from ORFTC’s volunteers, that was above-and-beyond, even for us.
That’s not to say that Daniel didn’t have his priorities straight. Daniel leaves behind a wife, four children and a grandchild, and he was incredibly proud of them. Often, after doing the lion’s share of the work organizing one ORFTC event or another, he’d skip out on enjoying the fruits of his labor at the event itself in order to instead go attend a martial arts class or a swim meet with his family. These were decisions that we always respected, and that we can only hope contributed to some well-cherished memories for his children and wife.
Daniel’s day-in and day-out leadership is something that we will sorely miss. Not only did he serve ORFTC well as a an officer and public representative of our organization and our cause, be it by checking the books, leading phonebanks, speaking at events, meeting with legislators and, oh-so-importantly, soliciting donations. He also demonstrated what it means to approach social justice organizing as a marathoner rather than a sprinter. He was the type of person impatient for change, but completely unwilling to give up on it either. He just kept moving forward, with each step perhaps a little wiser and better informed.
One of our favorite photos of Daniel (among many) is from a rally he spoke at outside of then-Congresswoman Darlene Hooley’s, urging her to choose a side on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. There was never any doubt which side Daniel was on. He will always be remembered by this organization, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
All are welcome at the public, nondenominational memorial services being held on Saturday, March 10 at 2:00pm at the LDS chapel at 1000 Country Club Rd in Woodburn.
Daniel’s family would also appreciate if you could email any memories or photos of him to firstname.lastname@example.org.