Bonita Balkcom Guilford: June 22, 2017

Published 12:59 pm Thursday, June 22, 2017

ATLANTA — Mrs. Bonita Maria Balkcom Guilford, the daughter of the late Walter Terry Balkcom and Bobbie Smothers Balkcom, was born on Oct. 1, 1951, in Americus, Georgia. She departed this life on Thursday, June 22, 2017, at Emory, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia. The wake is from 6-8 on Friday, June 30, 2017, at Barnum Funeral Home.

Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, July 1, 2017, at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Interment will follow in the Eastview Cemetery, also Americus, Ga. Barnum Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Bonita Balkcom Guilford was a member of the historic Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church, Americus, Georgia, a church her late grandparents Henry Balkcom and Carol Bell Balkcom helped to build, and where they hold a stained glass window and pew in their tribute, and where her parents, the late Walter Terry Balkcom and Bobbie Smothers Balkcom, served as treasurer of Steward Board, as members of the Cathedral Choir and as trustees of the church. Ms. Bonita Balkcom Guilford is currently a member of Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia.

Mrs. Bonita Balkcom Guilford spent her younger years attending elementary school in Ellaville, while being raised in Smithville, Georgia, on the Smothers’ family farm, one of the first and oldest black-owned farms in the state of Georgia.

In second grade Mrs. Bonita Balkcom Guilford moved back to Americus, Georgia, and began attending Eastview Elementary School, while being raised in the home house attached to Balkcom’s Groceries, one of the first and oldest black-owned grocery stores in the state of Georgia. She also attended Staley Middle School.

Bonita was a 1969 graduate of Americus High School, where she was among the first classes to integrate Americus High School and attend all four years. She was an active part of the Civil Rights Movement and freedom marches in Americus, Georgia, and a heroine in her own right.

Bonita received a bachelor of science degree in home economics/consumer education in 1973, from Tuskegee Institute (University). At Tuskegee Institute, she was a majorette and captain her senior year. Additionally, she was Ms. October, Ms. Pershing Rifle, and Ms. Kappa Alpha Psi.

After graduating from Tuskegee, Bonita married the late Donald E. Guilford. Together they had three lovely children: two daughters Asanté SuJuan and Ché Romere, and one son Donald Balkcom Guilford. She later did graduate studies at The Ohio State University, pursuing her graduate studies in education in 1976.

Bonita held three educator professional certificates in home economics /consumer education in the states of Alabama, Ohio and California. Although she held education certificates, she chose to work in executive management for the next 35 years.

Bonita was a principal of Image Seminars International in Atlanta, Georgia, BONNI GUILFORD presents… in Atlanta, Georgia, and CEO of the Bonita Balkcom Guilford Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bonita was the regional vice president of sales for the Southeast for Electronic Storage Corporation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, district manager for Southern California for Pakula Jewelry in Los Angeles, California, regional marketing manager for the West Coast for Trifari Fashion Jewelry in Los Angeles, California, regional major accounts manager for Hanes Hosiery in Irvine, California, a store manager for Casual Corner in Hawthorne, California, the membership director for the Inglewood-Airport Area Chamber of Commerce in Inglewood, California, a nutritionist for the U.S.D.A. Child Care Food Program for Action for Children in Columbus, Ohio, and a merchandise manager for JC Penney Co. in Columbus, Ohio.

She held the following honors and awards:

Who’s Who Among Young Professionals, Who’s Who Publications, 1985                                                                              Entrepreneur, Who’s Who in Atlanta, 2005                                                                                                                                Fabulous Entrepreneur, Celebrate Life Foundation/Swing Magazine, 2007  (an honor she shared alongside the late Truitt Cathy of Chick-Fil-A)                                                                           Volunteer of the Year, The League against Child Abuse, 1980

She conducted professional speaking for the following:

National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia                                                         Lunch & Learn Program, American Intercontinental University, Atlanta, Georgia                           Staff Motivational Seminar, Albany Southwest Georgian newspaper, Albany, Georgia        Management Workshop, ECI, Marietta, Georgia.

She served on the following civic affiliations:

Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, Board Nomination Committee, Communication & Marketing Committee, Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP) Committee & Kidney Disease Prevention & Outreach Committee, The American Kidney Fund, Rockville, Md. Board of Directors & Chair-Consumer Committee, Southeastern Kidney Council, Raleigh, N.C. Membership & Professional Standards committee and Minority Affairs Committee, OPTN/UNOS, Richmond, Va. People like Us (United States Senate & Congress Advocacy), National Kidney Foundation, New York, N.Y. Expert Panel Member (Technical Expert Panel), Centers for Medicare & Mediciad (CMS) and ESRD Networks 9 & 10, Baltimore, Md., U.S. Senate & Congressional Advocacy, Patient Activist & Hope Line Operator, WeKAN, Los Angeles, Calif.

Member, National Kidney Disease Education Program, Bethesda, Md.

Speakers Bureau, Life Link of Georgia, Atlanta, Ga., and Make a Wish Foundation, Atlanta, Ga.

Board Member and Chair – Community Relations, Margaret Hudson program, Tulsa, Okla.

Membership Development Committee & Women’s Appointment Collaboration, Junior League of Los Angeles, Calif.

Speakers Bureau Facilitator, Volunteer Coordinator and Hard Hat Cotillion Committee, Parents Anonymous, Columbus, Ohio, and Los Angeles, Calif.

Women’s Board of Directors, Speakers Bureau Crisis Line, Chair-New Mother/Baby Visitor Program & Friends of the League Committee, The League Against Child Abuse, Columbus, Ohio, Chair-Policy Council, Nutrition Assessment Team & Parent Involvement Coordinator, Head Start Program, Columbus, Ohio.

Bonita was a published author of the short story, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” Atlanta, Ga. Additionally, she had a cable television show, and was talk show host, producer and director of “All About Kids” in Santa Monica, Calif.

She had several small businesses: Image Seminars International, SuCheDon Apparel & Accessories and BONNI GUILFORD Presents …. and The Bonita Balkcom Guilford Foundation.

Bonita enjoyed reading, traveling, spending time with her adult children and attending polo matches.

She is survived by her mother Bobbie Smothers Balkcom of Americus, Georgia; her three adult children, daughters Asanté SuJuan Guilford and Ché Romere Guilford of Atlanta, Georgia, and son Donald Balkcom Guilford of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, and many nieces, nephews and friends survive.