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Audio recording of the interview with Cleo Bonnemere

Cleo Bonnemere 

(Interviewed by Gladys Levy on 11/30/1983. Transcription: 5 pages)

Mrs. Bonnemere moved to Teaneck with her husband and two sons in 1954 from New York. Their oldest child attended St. Cecilia's in Englewood, because St. Anastasia's classes were all filled at the time. Mrs. Bonnemere believes no blacks were enrolled then, because places were being held for families who had more than one child. However, as the black population increased, so did the pressure applied to the school, and blacks began finally to attend (p.1- 2).

Mrs. Bonnemere's civic and community affiliations included the Teaneck Civic Conference (T .C.C.), an organization that fought against blockbusting as well as other proposed undesirable impacts on neighborhoods. Later, when her children became older, Mrs. Bonnemere began working for the Urban League, a non-profit interracial organization, helping people find employment, housing, education and training. In this regard, Cleo Bonnemere became the first housing counselor for Bergen County. She was also president of SPRY, an organization somewhat like a job bank for seniors, matching skills with job orders (p. 2-3).

As reported in the DAILY NEWS, Edward Bonnemere, Cleo's husband, received two awards from Cardinal Cooke--one from the Black Catholics, the other through the Handmaids of Mary--recognizing the work he had done. Mr. Bonnemere has taught music in the New York public school system for thirty-five years. An accomplished composer and performer, Mr. Bonnemere wrote the first jazz mass in 1976-1977 for St. Charles Roman Catholic Church in N.Y. In fact, he has played jazz vespers at St. Peter's Lutheran Church since 1966, and is also an organist at St. Mark's Roman Catholic Church in N.Y. Mr. Bonnemere has a band and a choir and plans to give music workshops in Connecticut and North Carolina (p. 4-5).

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