Janet G. Bonney, 90: Children's book author shared her love of animals

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HARPSWELL — Longtime resident Janet Gates Bonney, 90, died peacefully on Oct. 24 in Bath.

Bonney lived in Harpswell over 40 years, and spent many of those years owning and operating the Fur and Feather Farm & Gift Shop, an occupation that gave her great joy.

She was born in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1924, the daughter of Janet M. and Franklin H. Gates, and granddaughter of Emma C. and Frederick T. Gates. She was a 1942 graduate of The Kimberley School in Montclair, and on December 23, 1945, she married a U.S. Marine, Alfred Bonney III.

The couple settled in Montclair, where Alfred began his long career as a real estate agent and mortgage banker, while Janet was a devoted housewife and mother to their three daughters. The couple were both active members of The First Congregational Church of Montclair.

In 1970, the family moved from New Jersey to Harpswell, and it was there that Bonney discovered her true home, at Fur and Feather Farm. She landscaped her property with magnificent flowers and shrubs, and sold raspberries, hand-knit hats and potholders from her shop. She also shared her lifelong passion for animals with countless visitors, who came to see her rabbits and cats, savor the eggs from her chickens and ducks, and delight in the tales of her beloved dogs.

Bonney became well-known when, aided by her dog, Martha, she rescued her chicken, Valerie, by administering CPR. The event made worldwide news. In 1999, Janet, Martha and Valerie starred in the PBS documentary, “The Natural History of the Chicken.” In 2008, at the age of 84, Janet penned a children’s book, “Martha to the Rescue.”

She is survived by her three daughters, Linda Wolgast of Tucson, Arizona, Christine Huppe, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Barbara Bonney of Salzburg, Austria, as well as by six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Bonney was a long-standing member of The Human Society, and memorial donations may be made to that organization at: The Humane Society of the U.S., Dept. HACDQ 1000904001, 2100 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20037.

No memorial service has been scheduled.