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Published: Monday, 11/24/2008

Basket matriarch Bonnie Longaberger dies

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEWARK, Ohio Bonnie Jean Gist Longaberger, the 100-year-old matriarch of the family behind Ohio s Longaberger basket company, has died, the company said.

Grandma Bonnie, as she was known within the company, died Sunday at a nursing home in Coshocton, said Tom Matthews, a Longaberger Co. spokesman.

No cause of death was immediately given.

In a letter on the company s Web site, chief executive and president Tami Longaberger said her grandmother had remained active in the company and the community until recent years and was a resilient, loving woman with a zest for life.

She had a commonsense attitude and enjoyed simple living. She never complained, Tami Longaberger recalled. She always believed in forging ahead, and she did it with a wit and sense of humor that made us chuckle out loud.

She also provided inspiration for many of the company s products, Matthews said.

The matriarch s love of daffodils led Longaberger to offer baskets designed to hold and display the flowers, he said.

The company operates out of a seven-story, basket-shaped building in Newark, about 30 miles east of Columbus.

Bonnie Longaberger was born July 16, 1908 in the eastern Ohio village of Trinway.

At a home in nearby Dresden, she raised 12 children next to a workshop where her husband, J.W. Longaberger, made baskets by hand and taught the craft to his children.

The company was founded in 1973 by the couple s son Dave Longaberger, who died in 1999 and was the father of the current CEO. The company relies on approximately 45,000 independent consultants throughout the U.S. who sell its baskets, pottery and other products directly to customers.

Visitation for Bonnie Longaberger is scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Dresden Chapel of Vensil-Orr & Chute Funeral Home.

She was beloved by our employees and home consultants and will be missed, obviously, Matthews said.

Wednesday morning s funeral service at Dresden United Methodist Church will be followed by a private family burial.



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