Al had a great love of stories, whether reliving the events in one of his tall tales or listening to adventures told by family and friends. He loved to laugh and make others laugh. Like all true fisherman and storytellers, the facts might be slightly exaggerated and bent over time, but they were real and were a doorway into the man we knew and loved.
Al was born September 1957, in San Diego, Calif., the second son to Norman and Donna. This is where his journey began. Not all chapters in life begin and end in the way we foresee them, so Donna was soon caring for her young family and looking to the future.
Donna met and married Larry Root in 1961, and soon settled in Idanha. An idyllic time and place with boundless opportunity for a growing family of young boys looking for adventure. It was a like a page from Tom Sawyer for Al and his brothers, Norm, Craig, Andy and Hoot. Fishing and playing on the river banks and in the woods were some of Al’s fondest memories as a young boy. Al always had a close relationship with all of his brothers and family.
A change of jobs in 1970 meant a move to Burns for the family, and a new set of friends for Al. Many of these friendships from elementary and high school became life-long relationships. Al was a loyal friend, quick to tease and just as quick to help you when you were down.
After graduating, Al worked several jobs, including one at Edward Hines Lumber Mill. In 1986, Al began working for his brother, Andy, alongside his father, Larry, brother, Hoot and Uncle Dave, at Andy’s new company, Andy’s Custom Work. Hard work and long hours spent haying and farming in Burns and Christmas Valley were just fine with Al, but helping teach his nieces and nephews along the way were the times he treasured most. Al was great with kids; he was tough, but always loving.
Around this time, The Powerhouse Restaurant hired a new waitress; a new girl in town with red hair and an outlandish laugh. It was there that Al and Steph met for the first time. They began dating in 1989, sharing many passions, including family, travel, music and Oregon Duck football. Ten short years later, they realized they were perfect for each other. They married in the spring of 1999.
Al and Steph traveled throughout their marriage. Family and friends joined them on trips from the Costa Rican jungle to the Caribbean seas. He lived for adventure, grabbing life with both hands and squeezing everything he could out of it. And he encouraged others to do the same. Oregon Duck football was a venue for sharing time with others. He and Steph loved tailgating at Autzen Stadium with family and friends. A mention of Oregon could cause you to lose hours debating the merits of his favorite team.
As much as both Al and Steph loved to travel, they equally loved living in Harney County. The people and the country are amazingly beautiful. The sense of community and fellowship here is a true blessing.
When Al faced the illness that threatened his health and future, he battled it like a warrior poet. Against incredible odds, he chose to hope and live each moment. He spent this time as he did his life, having adventures and spreading love. While he lost his battle with the illness in the end, his life came full circle. Those people whom he loved so much stepped forward to be at his side, with hearts as large as his and encouragement along the way.
Al was preceded in death by his dad, Larry Root; nephew, Brandon Bonson; and many cherished family and friends.
Al is survived by his wife, Steph Bonson; mother, Donna Root; brothers, Norm Bonson, Craig Bonson, Andy Root and Larry Root; sisters-in-law, Mary Bonson, Teri Bonson, Jana Root and Dawn Root; 16 nephews and nieces; 16 grand-nephews and nieces; many uncles, aunts and cousins; as well as friends who are loved like family.