The Mountain Top Arboretum mourns the loss of its co-founder and Director Emeritus, Bonnie Ahrens, who passed away May 25, 2017 in the presence of her family. She is survived by her three children, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Bonnie had completed an extraordinary life of 100 years, which commenced in St. Paul and White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Bonnie was the youngest of seven children and thus developed the determination, humor, charm and talent that make the youngest child of a large family successful. She was a graduate of Pine Manor College in Massachusetts, where she met her husband, Peter, who was attending Harvard Medical School.
After Peter’s military service, Bonnie and Peter established their family in Bronxville, New York, Peter working in medical research at Rockefeller University and Bonnie developing an interior design business after attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). In 1948 they acquired a second home in the Onteora Club near Tannersville New York, and spent their summers there for the next 58 years. Both Peter and Bonnie shared a passion for the local landscape and in 1977 founded the Mountain Top Arboretum, whose mission was to offer a “sanctuary of trees and shrubs” for the purpose of educating the public in horticulture and stewardship of the environment. For nearly 25 years, they worked tirelessly to fulfill their vision of this beautiful Catskill environment for the enjoyment of the public.
Bonnie was a special force of charm and energy, who relished engaging with the Arboretum’s visitors and supporters. She retained her keen interest in the Arboretum even after leaving the community to retire in New Jersey. She and Peter have left an indelible mark on the community they served through the founding and fostering of the Arboretum with a mission even more relevant today than when it was founded 40 years ago. Bonnie will be missed greatly but well remembered for her extraordinary contribution and lasting commitment to her community.
The family has asked that donations in Bonnie’s memory be contributed to the Mountain Top Arboretum. Acknowledgement letters are sent to the donor and to the Ahrens family.