Lara Maria Johnson Bonilla: Nov. 24, 1961 – Jan. 16, 2016

Lara Maria Johnson Bonilla, 54, was born Nov. 24, 1961, in Long Beach, Calif., to Homer and Judy Johnson. Lara is survived by her loving husband, Richard (Rick) Bonilla, daughters Kathryn (Katie), Alison (Ali) and Christine (Chrissy), sister Kathleen (Kat) Bodner, brother Andrew (Andy) Johnson, and plenty of nieces, nephews and other loving family and friends that surrounded her in a life well-lived.Lara-Bonilla-photo

Lara grew up in the beach-side community of Naples Island in Long Beach and spent her days swimming, sailing and sunbathing. She graduated from Wilson High School in 1979 and spent time traveling to Europe and Asia. Lara received her Bachelor of Arts (Cal State University Long Beach) in Elementary Education.

Lara married the love of her life, Rick, 30 years ago in Long Beach on Jan. 18, 1985. Shortly thereafter, Lara earned her master’s degree in bilingual education and teaching certificate (Cal State University Dominguez Hills).

Lara completed student teaching then began her teaching career in Paramount. Her growing family moved to Colorado, settled in Berthoud, and Lara was hired to work at Rocky Mountain Elementary School where she taught for 23 years until her passing.

Lara, Rick and the girls enjoyed putting around and boating in local lakes and in Southern California. They enjoyed family vacations to North Carolina, Mexico and California. Their last family vacation was to Catalina Island, returning to a lifelong favorite place for both of them.

Lara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on New Years’ Eve, 2014. She bravely battled this aggressive form of cancer with chemotherapy, radiation, and a clinical trial, becoming one of the less than five percent of pancreatic cancer patients to survive over one year. She passed away peacefully early the morning of Jan. 16, surrounded by her loved ones.

A memorial celebrating her life, loves and teaching will be held Saturday, Jan. 30, 2 p.m., at Rocky Mountain Elementary School, in Longmont, Colo.

Lara and her family’s wishes are that donations be made to children’s cancer research (www.childrenscoloradofoundation.org), any cancer research programs, or to Rocky Mountain Elementary School.