Bonita Rapp seems to have a pretty good handle on the concept of full-life stewardship. At age 86, she still works five days a week at her hair salon in Lincoln, Nebraska where she has been located for the past 30 years.
“The Mid-America Union used to be in the front part of this building,” says Bonita. “The upstairs is still the old offices that they used 107 years ago.”
Bonita started out three blocks further up Calvert Street in the old Christian Record Services for the Blind building. After her husband died, she and her daughter, Kitty, lived in an apartment above the beauty shop where Bonita worked long hours to support them. “My folks did a lot for me,” she adds.
These days, Kitty is a nurse in North Carolina, and Bonita has one grandson and two stepsons. Her younger brother, Max, has retired from teaching and lives in Las Vegas, while another brother, Bid, is still going strong with his painting business at age 78.
Bonita’s oldest client is 102. Another lady, age 97, has been coming to her salon for over 50 years. The lady’s daughter drives her into town every week. “But if people can’t come to me, I go to them,” Bonita says, smiling. She regularly drives to client’s homes or nursing homes to keep her ladies looking lovely. “I’m not as busy as I used to be, but I’m always coming and going.” She laughingly adds that if she didn’t have income from her rental properties, she’d be living under a bridge. “When I get off work here, I go over to my rentals and work.”
Bonita has taken off work only two days in 52 years for being sick. How has she retained such good health? “I don’t know!” she exclaims. “I don’t really do anything. I eat a lot of chocolate (chuckles). One thing is that I don’t eat as much meat as I used to. I love roasted vegetables, and they taste so much better roasted with olive oil and salt. Otherwise, I just eat an average diet.”
She doesn’t take any pills. “No medicine,” Bonita declares. “I used to take vitamins and calcium, and I even quit that. I can still climb a ladder and get around steps pretty good. And I like to work in my flower beds.” She does go to Walgreens for a yearly flu shot.
“I don’t have a doctor,” she quips. “I don’t really need one. If I needed one, I’d go.”
A changing world
One of the societal changes Bonita most appreciates is the decrease in public smoking. “I put up with that for years,” she states. “People used to sit there and smoke while I worked, right in my face. I’m so glad nobody can do that anymore.”
Other major changes are in the realm of communication. Bonita uses her cell phone for calls, but she doesn’t text. She does, however, have a computer and an iPad. “I use my iPad a lot. I’m on it because it has Facebook on there. I like that you can really keep in touch with people, like, from all over the USA. I think you are never too old to learn.”
As a life-long Adventist, Bonita has seen many changes in the church as well. “There is no comparison on how it used to be,” she observes. “We know how the people used to think about Adventists—they were all so odd, and fanatics. There are still some fanatics, but not like it used to be. And we’re less critical of each other. We’ve changed for the better.”