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In Passing

Fred Bonnie
Fred Bonnie
Southern author, journalist and teacher Fred Bonnie died of a heart attack Saturday, May 13, on the way home to Birmingham from a book signing in North Carolina. He was 54, and had just published his first novel.

    While Bonnie was born in Portland, Me., he moved to Birmingham in 1974 to work for Southern Living. He wrote about gardening and food as a journalist, but also published at least a dozen collections of short stories, fiction and non-fiction.

    During the late 1980s, he conducted readings on a regular basis in a little newsstand/coffee shop/bookstore on the south side of Birmingham called NewsBreak, owned by Glynn Wilson, now The Southerner's Editor-in-Chief.

    "Fred was a super nice guy, a real class act," Wilson said. "He was talented, smart and funny, and always willing to lend a helping hand to other young writers. His sudden death comes as a real shock. I just saw him a few weeks ago in Birmingham, when he gave me a floppy disk with these two short stories. He wanted to make a contribution to The Southerner to help us down the road to publishing success."

    Bonnie had worked for years to publish a novel-length manuscript, and lived to see that dream come true when Black Belt Press in Montgomery published Thanh Ho Delivers in April. He was among a select group of young fiction writers chosen to study under novelist Jesse Hill Ford at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the late 1970s. Mark Childress and Richard North Patterson were among his classmates. Both went on to write best selling-novels.

    Bonnie helped organize the Birmingham Southern College "Writing Today" conference each spring, and was responsible for the appearance of The Southerner staff this year in a session on Electronic Publishing

    In a session on free-lance writing opportunities, Bonnie said he had worked many jobs in the past to support his writing, but that in recent years, he had figured out how to make a good living solely as a writer. "I've made it," he said. Many of his short stories dealt with jobs he had in the past. At various times he had worked as a cook, a cabby, and at an assortment of factory jobs.

    Bonnie is survived by his wife, Dr. Rhonda Carter, and a daughter, Samantha, from a previous marriage. Bonnie and Carter had just announced they were expecting their first child together.
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