Stephen Bonsal

Stephen Bonsal died peacefully on July 14, 2022, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. The son of Dudley Baldwin Bonsal and Lois Worrall Bonsal, he was born in New York City on August 9, 1935. In addition to the city, other places he lived as he grew up included Bedford, NY and Washington, DC. He went to St. Bernard’s School and Deerfield Academy, and he graduated from Yale University in 1956. After serving in the Army, he moved to New York, where he met Elizabeth “Betty” Lord, and married her in 1960. They first lived with their growing family in downtown Manhattan, including Stuyvesant Town, before moving in 1966 to Riverside, CT, where they lived for the next 53 years. He and his family regularly attended the First Congregational Church of Greenwich. He spent his entire career at Chubb and Son Insurance, serving as Vice President of its International Division. Following his retirement, he and Betty remained in Riverside until they moved to Lewes, Delaware in early 2020.


Steve loved mountain climbing. In addition to hiking up Mount Rainier in the summer of 1955, he climbed practically every 4000-footer in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. During the planning of a group hike, he could be relied on to inform everyone else in the group of the best routes to the mountain summit, with encyclopedic knowledge of the shortest trails, the smoothest trails, the trails that required clambering over rocks, the trails with the best views, and so on. He treasured the times he spent with family on Squam Lake, having first spent summers there during World War II, and visiting more regularly from the 1970s onward. Other outdoor pursuits included tennis and his numerous gardening and yard projects in the family’s Hendrie Avenue yard.


Steve was also a big fan of classical music and reading. He and Betty belonged to an opera club that frequented the Metropolitan Opera and, in the summers, visited Cooperstown, NY to attend performances at the Glimmerglass Festival. In his pursuit of creating his ideal book collection, he made it his mission to build wall length bookcases in most of the rooms of the Hendrie Avenue house. He had a special love for learning about US and British history, military campaigns, and ruthless political intrigue, as well as reading mystery novels and the books of Anthony Trollope. He and Betty also pursued their love of music, the arts, and time spent with the friends that shared their loves both in New York at the Century Club and in Greenwich, CT at the Greenwich Symphony and as members of the Turkey-of-the-Month Club, which put on monthly plays staged in living rooms.


Steve was greatly beloved by family and friends. He was predeceased by his son Stephen Bonsal and his sister Lois Osler. In addition to Betty Bonsal, his wife of 61 years, he is survived by his daughter Elizabeth (Liz) Bonsal and her wife Tracy Toscano of Lewes, DE; son Dudley Bonsal of Harrisonburg, VA; daughter Virginia (Jenn) Nickell and her husband Jeffrey Nickell of Fairfield, CT, and their children Ellie and Jack.