Thursday, April 16, 2020 12:00 AM

In Memoriam: Bonnie Winters

BONNIE WINTERS COLLINS, 79 of Parker, Colorado passed away on Friday, April 10, 2020. She was born Bonnie Jean Tomlinson in Chicago, Illinois on November 20, 1940 to Albert E. Tomlinson and Violet L. Tomlinson (née Smith).

She graduated from Vallejo High School, California in 1958, where she was a member of the Hospital Service Club. In 1960, Bonnie graduated from the University of California, Berkley with an Associate of Arts Degree. She continued her studies and earned her Diploma in Nursing from Presbyterian-St. Luke’s School of Nursing in 1963. And in 1968, Bonnie earned her Diploma Nurse Anesthesia from Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center Rush University in Chicago.

Bonnie and her first husband, Wendell D. Winters, married in Chicago in 1962. In addition to raising their three children, Bonnie worked in Chicago as a staff nurse and in Los Angeles she begin her career with the Veterans Administration Health Care System in 1970. In 1976, Bonnie began work as Chief Nurse Anesthetist of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, Texas. During her 40 years of clinical practice she made a significant impact on the way nurse anesthetists were viewed in the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 1973, along with two other certified nurse anesthetists Bonnie founded the Association of Veterans Affairs Nurse Anesthetists (AVANA).  In particular, Bonnie appeared before Congress to ensure the implementation of practices which improved patient care.  In 2012, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists awarded Bonnie the Alice Mcgaw Clinical Anesthesia Practitioner Award in recognition of her groundbreaking impact on the way nurse anesthetists are viewed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After Bonnie and her first husband divorced, she continued her work at Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in San Antonio. In 1991, a mutual neighbor introduced Bonnie to John E. Collins who lived one house away. They married in 1993 in San Antonio and moved in 2000 to Colorado, living in Aurora and recently, Parker.

In their 27 years of marriage, Bonnie and John enjoyed traveling and cruising around the world.  Bonnie loved art and introduced John to museums and galleries, and they often attended the theatre. In Aurora, Bonnie continued working part-time as a nurse anesthetist with Denver Health. In Parker, she volunteered at Parker Adventist Hospital and the Parker Arts Center. Bonnie was interested and active in the community of Parker and was always up to date with local politics.   Bonnie loved being a grandmother and adored gathering all the family together for traditional holiday meals. 

Bonnie is preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband of 27 years, John E. Collins of Parker, Colorado; three children and their spouses, Timothy D.  Winters (Elaine) of Kentucky; Amma Rios (Albert) of Centennial; and Craig Iain D. Winters (Diana) of Texas. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Alex Rios; Abby Rios; Aiden Winters; and Ellie Winters. Additionally, Bonnie had three step grandchildren, Nicholas (Monica) Lawson; Christopher Lawson; and Emily Lawson. She is also survived by a stepdaughter Meg Collins (Richard Pegg), of Highlands Ranch, Colorado and her cousin Roger Christensen of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Interment will take place at a later date.

The family suggests sending memorial donations to:
Denver Art Museum, 100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy., Denver, CO 80204
Parker Arts, 2000 Pikes Peak Ave. Parker, CO  80138

To share a memory, please click here.
To read about Bonnie Winter’s contributions to AVANA history, click here.