Cover photo for Carolyn "Bonnie" Elliott Schwartz's Obituary
Carolyn "Bonnie" Elliott Schwartz Profile Photo
1943 Carolyn "Bonnie" 2024

Carolyn "Bonnie" Elliott Schwartz

September 1, 1943 — February 1, 2024

Born in East Orange, New Jersey, her family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, then to the Philadelphia suburbs when she was a young child. She attended the local schools, graduating from Springfield High School in 1961; and Pennsylvania State University in 1965, where she majored in Art History and joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She moved to California with her husband, David Buchanan. The first marriage ended after 2 years. Later, she met the love of her life, Clem Schwartz, when she applied for a job at Reed Miller & Murphy design studio where he worked. They married in 1971 in Kauai, Hawaii while on a designing project and they began Schwartz Graphic Design in San Diego, California. In 1989 they were 2 of 40 designers throughout the country invited to attend a design conference featuring many new computer programs and formats. They understood the importance of learning this new technology and how it could rapidly change graphic design. They helped develop the San Diego computer graphics world, receiving many awards for their work nationally and internationally(Canada and Mexico).

She became an active member of the San Diego community and loved sharing her many talents. She was invited/recruited into leadership positions and always said “yes” with a strong sense of commitment and dedication. She was the past president of Rotary International - Club 33, The Executives Association of San Diego, and the National Association of Women Business Owners, San Diego Chapter. She was awarded the BRAVO AWARD - Women in Business Owner of the Year in 2001. January 31, 2024, she presided as President for the first time at the Women’s Golf Association (WGA) of San Diego Country Club. She felt so honored to have been chosen for these positions of trust, responsibility and leadership, and nurtured countless great friendships. Also a member and past president of the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA), she received the prestigious Paula E. Sullivan Outstanding Achievement Award.

To her friends and family, she was kind, loving, generous, supportive, patient, gracious, humble, a role model, mentor, and confidant. She loved dancing, especially at family weddings, and kept her radio on at home for those spontaneous moments of unbridled joy. She was especially delighted in her family and there were many wonderful gatherings in her home. Preparing food and decorating for family weddings, birth celebrations, holidays, birthdays, and graduations brought her great joy. In her “free” time she enjoyed many wonderful activities with her husband - rounds of golf at the San Diego Country Club, weekly physical training at Gills Fitness and fly fishing. After his passing, she joined the First United Methodist Church San Diego, and soon was asked to be head of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee. Also, right after Clem’s death, Bonnie began traveling with her sister and brother-in-law, having many adventures as a new birder across the U.S., South America and France. The first of 8 birding trips through Field Guides, Inc. was to Kauai, Hawaii in 2015, where Bonnie and Clem had married. She, her sister and brother-in-law and niece stayed at THE hotel where they designed the logo. Full circle.

Bonnie passed away in her sleep after a “normal” day, which means she lived it to its fullest! She began her Wednesday with fitness training, then a run to Sprouts for groceries, and lunch with Rev Trudy Robinson as Bonnie was to be liturgist for Sunday’s service. In the evening, while driving to the WGA meeting, she was rejoicing in her new vision after recent cataract surgery. Everything was so clear and colors were so vibrant! She ended her day by presiding for the first time at a meeting as President of the Women’s Golf Association. What a day Bonnie had! Leading, as always, by example.

In Bonnie’s words:

The riches of this life have a strong foundation in our families,

the lessons learned along the way,

the gratitude in our hearts, compassion for others

and the love we have known.

Preceding Bonnie in death were her loving parents, Marti and Jack Helmig. She is survived by her sister Charm Peterman (Pete), cousin, George F. Elliott (Mimzi), niece Nikól Rogers (Chuck), nephew Karl Peterman (Amy); 2 great-nieces, 1 great-nephew; three step-children: Jeff Schwartz, Jenny Schwartz-Basom (Michael), and Jon Schwartz (Annette); eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Jon is the new “staff” for her beloved cat, Sara. A Celebration of Life Service was held at First United Methodist Church of San Diego, 211 Camino del Rio South,92108.

In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations go to Bonnie’s preferred charities:

San Diego Rotary Club 33

First UMC San Diego

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance


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