Mary Bonko, 85, of Benteen, died peacefully surrounded by her loved ones. She was born December 27, 1935 in Crow Agency, MT, a daughter of Eugene and Maude (Morrison) Yarlott. She was a member of the Zion II Church. Her Indian name was Baaapáan xiasaah (Outstanding Flower). She was affectionately known as Maggie. Maggie grew up in the Big Horn Mountains, which was a second home to her. During her childhood her father was a fire lookout and her grandfather Allie Morrison was a Buffalo Herder in the Big Horn Mountains. Maggie became a true mountain woman. Maggie was the oldest grandchild on both sides of her family.Maggie was a humble, compassionate loving person. Being the oldest she helped raise her siblings and many of her nephews and nieces. Maggie was a very talented seamstress. She was well known for her moccasins, cradle boards, lamp shades and mukluks. Everyone asked Maggie to make fry bread for special occasions because her’s was the tastiest. She could sing any type of music including yodeling. Her ability to reach high notes was amazing. Maggie received her early education in Hardin. She was one of the first Native women to attend and graduate from the Acme School of Cosmetology in Billings. Throughout her life, it was important to her to always look her very best. Maggie married Tom Bonko on October 22, 1965 and the couple made their home in the Benteen area. Tom was a fire lookout man and this enabled Maggie to continue being in her beloved mountains. They fostered many children over the years. Maggie was a foster parent for more than 50 years and maintained a relationship with many of the children and their children. She had a large garden and canned the produce for winter. Her home was open to all who came to visit and usually sent them home with a pan of bread or a treat. Maggie kept her own counsel and never argued or complained. She was taught as a young girl to be respectful and quiet; she maintained this loving manner throughout her life. Maggie read her Bible every morning.
Maggie was preceded in death by her parents and husband, her sons Mitchell Bonko, Paul Spotted Horse, Jr. and Bert Old Bear; her daughters Vicki Bonko, Ella Buffalo; her brothers Frank “Tee” Red Wolf, Charles Yarlott, Sr.; her sisters Charlotte Spotted Horse, Linda Ten Bear, Elsie Leider, Victoria Crooked Arm, Olive Yarlott and Annie Jo Cashen.
Maggie is survived by her sons; Thomas (Geraldine) Bonko-Spotted Horse, Sr., Robert Little Light, Stormy (Tanisha) Whiteman, Samuel (Angie) Bonko, Benito (Kathy) Morrison, and Patrick Wilson, her daughters; Delmyrna Yarlott, Sandra Stops, Vernell Bad Bear, Roberta Spotted Horse, Crystal Bonko and granddaughter, Marilyn Journey, who she raised and was her pride and joy; her grandchildren Nikki (Sonny), Delmyrna, Thomas, Jr., Chelsee, Venny, Vanessa, Veriah (Bob), Victoria, Sheydon, Sam, Jr., Colton, Bo Thomas, Denise; her great grandchildren Wylie, Mya, Peyton, Kayloni, Kaison, Charlie, Lexi; her brothers, Alvin (Lucille), Aaron (Althea) Yarlott, Sr. and Larry (Vern) Weasel Tail; her sisters Rozalia (Garrett) Stewart, Regina Tina Yarlott, Marcia (Benito) Brown, Tori (Oliver) Half, Karri (Matt) Stops, Geneva Walks Over Ice and Roberta Old Bear; her aunt Delma Yarlott. Her extended family includes the Yarlott, Morrison, Old Bear, Hugs, Decrane, Goes Ahead, Alden, Old Horn, Medicine Horse, Wilson, Other Medicine, Doyle and the children of the late Charles and Bernice Jefferson, Yellowhorn family of Canada. Our family is large if we have missed you, please accept our apology during our time of grief. The family would like to thank Dr. David Mark, Compassus Hospice and Robert Smokey for their loving care of Mary.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday July 14, 2021 at 11:00 in the Bullis Funeral Chapel with interment to follow at the Fairview Cemetery in Hardin. Bullis Mortuary is entrusted with the arrangements.