Langevin • El Paraiso Funeral Home

On the evening of April 30th, 2019, the community suffered a great loss. Kenneth (Ken) Eugene Bongers passed peacefully surrounded by his loving family. Ken was born June 12th, 1934 in David City, Nebraska to his father, Henry J. Bongers, and his mother, Berniece Bongers (Danaher), full of life and ready to take every opportunity to learn, grow and work hard. He will now be joining his brothers Bill (Skipper Bill) and Don Bongers, his grandson Mason Cassel and parents in Heaven.

Throughout Ken’s life he enjoyed a number of hobbies which included: fishing, gardening, field trips, trips to the casino, educating anyone who would listen, watching any sport that was on television, and watching the news. He also loved every moment of being a father, grandpa, and great grandpa, and he was a great one at that.

He met his loving wife Jean (Norma Jean) Bongers (Opitz) on the Gonzaga University campus where he swept her off her feet, and they were married August 4th, 1956 in her home of Helena, Montana in the stunning St. Helena Cathedral. They were married for 62 wonderful years and would have been 63 this coming August.

Ken lived a life full of education and compassion. He graduated from Gonzaga University with his Bachelors of Science in Biology in 1956. From there, he and his new wife Jean moved to Soap Lake, Washington; it was there they welcomed their first child, son, John, and where Ken began his career in education. During this time he also earned his Masters in Biology from Central Washington University, and continued his education through summer fellowship programs, where he had the opportunity to attend 11 different colleges. He taught in Soap Lake from 1957-1961. Ken and Jean then moved to the Yakima Valley in 1961. After moving to Yakima, they welcomed their daughters Linda and Brenda. He took a job at the Central Catholic High School as a science teacher from 1961-1963. He then took the job that would be his greatest passion, working as a biology teacher at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School where he taught from 1963-1989. While at Eisenhower, he wore many hats, he was a teacher, a basketball coach, a football coach, a driver’s education teacher, referee, an athletic trainer, and a mentor to many; in 1980, he received the prestigious award of Biology Teacher of the Year, in 1987 he received the Washington State Science Teacher of the Year award, and in 1989 the State Game and Eisenhower students dedicated a Wildlife Reserve in Cowiche Canyon in his name. He is also very proud to say that he only missed 3 days in his entire career. It was at Eisenhower High School that he touched the lives of thousands of students and staff; even years after his retirement he could still be seen at every home basketball and football game, pom pom in hand, and pockets full of candy to give to any passerby willing to say hello. He enjoyed watching his son and daughters participate in sports as proud Ike Cadets, along with many of his grandchildren.

In 2017, he was awarded Eisenhower High School’s “Fan of the Year,” and in 2018 was inducted into the Eisenhower Hall of Fame.

After retiring from education, Ken and Jean started working for Langevin, Rainier, and Keith and Keith Funeral Homes, where they have worked for the last 28 years. Ken, much enjoyed working there as a greeter, seeing friends, former students, and community members, passing out candy, smiles, and programs.

Ken and Jean are devout Catholics, and are proud Holy Family Parish members, and can be found Saturday nights at the 5 pm mass, greeting.

Ken is survived by his wife Jean, his son John Bongers and his wife Diane Bongers, his daughter Linda Rehfield-Ray and her husband Dennis Ray, his daughter Brenda Cassel and her husband Rodney Cassel, his grandchildren Ashley Bongers, Kyle Bongers and his wife Carlie Bongers, Mackenzie Rehfield, Austin Rehfield, Faradeh Rehfield, Braeden Rehfield, Luzie Ray, Madden Ray, Kolney Cassel, Brooklyn Cassel, Courtney Cassel, and Skyler Cassel, and his great-grandson Kaizer Rehfield.

He will be missed, remembered and loved by so many. Please join us Thursday, May 9th, 2019 at Langevin-El Paraiso for his viewing from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Sunday May 12th, 2019 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm for his viewing and vigil service will begin at 5:00 pm, and Monday May 13th, 2019 at Holy Family at 10:30 am, for his Mass of Christian Burial with a reception to follow. Private burial will be held at Calvary Mausoleum.

The family would love to thank his extended family at Keith and Keith, Langevin-El Paraiso and Rainier Memorial Center, and the Central Washington Family Medicine team of doctors: Rue, Wadsworth, Dhaliwal, Papazian and Johnson, and the Memorial Hospital 5th floor nursing staff. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Holy Family Catholic Church. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.keithandkeith.com.

(5) entries

The entry about the marine biology trip was from Jo Anne Weyrick Robinson.

Teaching with Ken was an honor. I recall a marine biology trip over on the peninsula that I chaperoned for him each driving a van full of eager and excited science students from Ike. We went clear up to Vancouver Island after eating freshly cooked oysters at an oyster farm near Purdy. Getting home was quite an adventure since we were limited to buying only 10 gallons of gas at a time due to a gas shortage. We pulled into the Ike parking lot driving on fumes but we returned all students safe and sound to their anxious parents. Rest in peace, Ken, and thank you for sharing your life with so many of us.

Kevin Taylor

Coach Bongers was a great person and I still remember Jean back in 1968. Great memories and the B squad was a very enjoyable time. I look back and see how remarkable he was in many ways. My prayers to Jean and family...thanks for really caring in life....

Bruce Eyer

Simply put, Ken was an exemplary teacher and human being. His biology classroom on the second floor, north wing of the original Eisenhower High School, was a place of wonder.

Carol Cramer

I remember swimming at the YMCA with Ken and Mean and then seeing them every time I'd attend a funeral. Ken was always there to hand me a program and a kind word! And Jean, bless her heart, was serving others, always, getting the refreshments out! I'm gonna miss visiting with Ken!
Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.