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Gordon G. Bonisteel

December 12, 2022

Gordon G. BonisteelGordon George Bonisteel passed away peacefully at his home in Clayton, New York, on December 12, 2022, surrounded by his family. A triplet, he was born in Ithaca, New York on July 18, 1956.

Gordon was a graduate of Watertown High School and Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where he earned a degree in Political Science in 1978.

On July 15, 1989, he married Julia Shaw Robinson at the Church of the St. Lawrence in Alexandria Bay. She and the River became his enduring loves.

In his professional life, Gordon joined his father, Rodney Bonisteel, and brother William in the grocery business after a number of years working in California. Together, they owned and operated Big M Markets in Adams, Sandy Creek, Boonville, and Watertown. He and William later opened South Jeff Wine and Liquors in Adams, New York.

Gordon was an active citizen in his community. A member of the First Presbyterian Church in Watertown, he served on various committees. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Brookside Cemetery in Watertown. In addition, Gordon served on the Planning Board of Appeals in Henderson, New York.

He loved sports, particularly skiing, snowboarding, and tennis, and was a member of the National Ski Patrol, overseeing the slopes at Dry Hill Ski Area for ten years. As Commodore of the Thousand Islands Park Yacht Club, he revitalized the sailing and kayak programs. In the summer, he was the Tennis Chair at the Grenadier Country Club in Rockport, Ontario, where he had many friends. Other River ties were to the Antique Boat Museum and the Chippewa Yacht Club in Chippewa Bay.

In addition to his family and the River, Gordon loved vintage cars, boats, and interesting old houses. He had a lifelong passion for restoring residences to their former beauty. Gordon was a wine connoisseur, and a raconteur with a fine, dry wit that could send the room into gales of laughter.

Gordon is survived by his wife of 33 years, Julia, and two sons: Nathanial Graham Bonisteel and George Warren Bonisteel, both of Clayton, New York. He is also survived by his siblings: William Bonisteel, wife Maria, Clayton, New York; Holly MacDonald, husband Daniel, of Maggie Valley, North Carolina; and Carrie Salem, husband Tony, Holliston, Massachusetts; as well as several nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Gordon’s life will be held at a date and time to be announced. A burial service at Brookside Cemetery will be held in the future. The Cummings Funeral Service of Clayton, New York is entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences may be posted at: www.cummingsfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gordon’s name may be made to Save the River, the Thousand Islands Land Trust, and Hospice.


#22 Harry McMillan 2023-01-16 18:19
What a loss for all of you. He was a great guy.
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#21 Barbarajean Blodgett 2023-01-05 21:37
I am saddened by the news of Gordon's passing. He was such a thoughtful, considerate, and caring guy. I was thrilled to work with him as a sponsor of the annual Watertown Students Art Show when I was still teaching. Gordon and Julia raised two wonderful sons and it was a pleasure to be their art teacher.
Sending Love and Light to Julia, the boys, and the entire Bonisteel family. May his memory be a blessing to us all.
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#20 Virginia Kasser 2022-12-29 19:11
Dear Julia,
I’m so sad to hear about Gordy! You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Ginny (your cousin)
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#19 John Walker 2022-12-28 08:00
Julia and family, we are so sorry for your loss. Gordon was a remarkable man and the dearest of friends.

Gordon was a fixture on the river and a presence in our lives that cannot be replaced. He will be greatly missed.

Our thoughts are with you.
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#18 THOMAS WALKER 2022-12-26 14:50
What a terrible loss. Gordy and I knew each other from church school (pre-K) right up to the end. He was such a thoughtful and giving friend, and what a gifted humorist! I will miss him sorely. My heart goes out to Julia and their sons.
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#17 Jane Heffron 2022-12-21 12:31
Dear Julia, Bill and Maria,
Kevin joins me in sending our sympathy to you and all your family. We were just getting to know Bill through Grenadier. He was always so cheerful, gracious and full oof energy. Such a loss to all.
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#16 Thomas Trippany 2022-12-21 10:58
My condolences Bill and family. Please know you are in my prayers at this difficult time.
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#15 Larry McNally 2022-12-20 22:49
Heartbreaking! Gordon was a true and loyal friend since our college days at Hartwick. Too many good times to count. Teresa and I are saying prayers for God’s peace to Julia and her boys.
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#14 Kathy Falge 2022-12-20 21:29
Dear Julia and Family,
We are so sorry to learn about Gordon’s passing. John and I send you our deep heartfelt condolences. Our hearts are with you and we are praying for you as you go through this painful time.
All our love to you and your family.
John and Kathy
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#13 Sandy Mills 2022-12-19 09:20
Julia, I’m so sorry for you loss. Extending sympathy to you and your family during this difficult time ❤️
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