Vicksburg’s Joe Bonelli dies after battle with cancer

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Prominent Vicksburg businessman Joseph M. Bonelli has died.

Bonelli, 62, battled cancer valiantly for a number of years, but passed away early this morning at his home in Vicksburg.

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Bonelli was a lifelong Vicksburg resident and a graduate of Vicksburg High School. He operated a general contracting business and worked in construction for more than 40 years and was also a real estate broker.

His wife of more than 30 years, Marla McBeath Bonelli, as well as two sons, Joe M. Bonelli Jr. and John McBeath Bonelli, survives Bonelli.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Bonelli’s death is a loss for the Vicksburg community.

“I have known Joe for a long time. He was a true gentleman. He was a great guy to work with in our community, and was very active in our community. My condolences go out to his wife, Marla, and their family,” Flaggs said.

Laura Beth Strickland, deputy director of Visit Vicksburg, said her family and her husband’s family have known Bonelli for a lifetime.

“Joe was very close with my husband’s family and he graduated from high school with my dad,” she said. “For Joe, there was never a job too small. If the bolts were loose on my grandmother’s door, he would come and fix them.

“Joe was one of those people you could always count on. You saw him at everything. He wanted Vicksburg to be the best it could be. He was just very dedicated to our city, and to the Eagle Lake community,” Strickland said. “He had a million friends and always had a smile on his face no matter what he was going through. He never met a stranger.

“The Bonelli family just really embodies what it means to be a Vicksburger. Joe Bonelli looked out for his neighbor and wanted our city to be the best it could be. He always made me feel important and special and loved to tell old Vicksburg stories. More than anything, he loved his family — Marla, the boys and his granddaughter. We lost a true gentleman, a very special soul.”

David Day, who owns the Historic Klondyke Trading Post, where Bonelli frequently had lunch, said he was “full of life and fun — a general man who had compassion for others and was passionate about his work.

“He approached the challenges of his life with the same vigor and can-do attitude that came to personify him,” Day said. “I will miss our conversations about his family settling in Vicksburg in the 1800s, Bonelli’s Grocery and the stories of the many generations of Bonellis who have made Vicksburg a better place to live.”

Visitation will be held at Glenwood Funeral Home this evening from 5 to 8 p.m.

A memorial service will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, at First Presbyterian Church with visitation starting at 1 p.m. until the hour of the service.

Memorials can be made to Jacob’s Ladder or a favorite charity.