Knox County holds many firsts especially in the area of accomplishments made by numerous local women. In 2014, in honor of Women’s History Month, I began writing about our local Knox County’s women who have made history by achieving extraordinary things.
Our story this week focuses on the life of Bonita Bingham Williams who has ventured to take on a business no one thought a woman could succeed in doing, the retail liquor business. Bonita, third generation businesswoman, has been remarkably successful in all her business dealings buying her first business in 1980 when she purchased the land and store building on 403 Manchester Street. Besides her business acumen, she is an extremely dedicated educator who worked and created numerous exceptional programs which benefitted both students and her fellow educators. Since 2013, she has served her community as School Board Member of the Barbourville Independent Schools.
Bonita grew up in Kettering, Ohio and lived there until she was 16. Her first job in Barbourville was in the family grocery store on Manchester Street at age 16. Bonita recalls having to learn quickly about “light bread, sweet milk, plugs and twists of backer. The Appalachian names for these common items were foreign sounding, but she was a fast learner.
Bonita has several degrees in numerous fields of learning. She is a 1976 graduate of Knox Central High School who went on to receive an Associate Degree from Union College in Office Administration in 1980. In 1987 she received from the University of Kentucky an Associate Degree in Real Estate. In 1996 she received a B.S. Degree in Early Elementary Education with a Language Arts Endorsement in (Grades 5-9). In 1999, she earned a MA degree in Education from Union College allowing her to become a Reading and Writing Specialist (K-12). Her final degree in 2004, was a Rank I Certification in Educational Leadership.
Before her retirement from teaching in 2014, she taught at Dewitt Elementary and Knox Central Middle School. Bonita’s work in the field of education has been very diverse in scope. She has done everything from classroom instruction to Title I Collaborating Teacher, Reading/Writing and Technology Integration. This is just a few of her other educational responsibilities:
•Creator and Supervising Teacher of School Newsletter and School Website
•Governor’s Cup Judge for English Composition
•Odyssey of the Mind Coach
Bonita’s other work experience outside of education over the years has led her to do a variety of jobs including: cashier, general operations manager Bingham Stop and Go, insurance clerk Mountain Valley Insurance, administrative assistant to Ed Black Union College, grant writer Union College (Bonita wrote the original Upward Bound grant), owner and operator of Stop and Go Market Manchester Street and owner, operator and personnel manager of Knox Street Liquor which opened in November 2016.
Bonita is a faithful friend, devoted wife, loving mother, doting grandmother, caring daughter, helpful sister, dedicated public servant and savvy businesswoman who has worked all her life to make her community a better place.
This article is a reprint from March 19, 2017.
I hope to be back to writing my regular scheduled articles next week.
The Knox Historical Museum’s staff is proud to announce that the Museum is now open on Wednesdays 10 am to 4 pm. The Museum is located upstairs in Barbourville’s Municipal Building on 196 Daniel Boone Drive.