February 21, 1942 – January 14, 2020
”On the south side of the entrance to Bonaire’s Harbor Village Marina is a dive site not known for its topside beauty, but for the incredible abundance and variety of marine life that school just offshore. In the shallows, I stalked squid with my 15mm lens and spotted a giant Cubera Snapper with an entourage of baitfish. During a dusk dive, we revisited a place where two orange frogfish had been lounging. This time, though, there was only one, which sat motionless while I took its portrait. A steady, seemingly unending parade of Creole Wrasse streamed past us, a prowling Sharptail Eel hot on their tracks. Spotted Morays peeked out from rocky lairs to witness the brief commotion and then slipped away silently, oblivious to my flashing strobe.
This isn’t how I expected to spend my summer. I planned to sit at my computer day after day, writing mystery novels. Instead, I spent nine and a half weeks on Bonaire: diving, reading, housesitting, taking care of two dogs, four cats and a jungle of plants…and then, diving some more…”
So begins one of Bonnie Cardone’s numerous diving stories, this one titled, “9 1/2 Weeks on Bonaire,” which she published in an on-line dive journal.
It shows her attention to the details of the underwater world, which she began writing about after becoming a certified diver in 1973. Three years later, Bonnie began working for Skin Diver Magazine, and retired 22 years later as Executive Editor. Bonnie wrote more than 900 articles and published thousands of photos during her 22-years with Skin Diver Magazine, while at the same time she was writing articles about women diving pioneers for the Historical Diving Society’s magazine and authoring two books, Shipwrecks of Southern California (co-authored with Patrick Smith), and Fireside Diver, a compendium of diving writers she chose to make up into a fascinating collection of underwater stories including her adventure of being shipwrecked on a deserted island in the Philippines and extracted by the US Navy. She was principal photographer for Diving and Snorkeling in Southern California & the Channel Islands.
What a hard worker Bonnie was! Her writings have appeared in California Diving News, The Journal of Diving History, Canada’s Diver Magazine, Alert Diver, Sport Diver and several e-zines. In 1999, Bonnie received both the Women’s Scuba Association’s Women Diver of the Year Award and St. Brendan Corp’s California Scuba Service Award. She was one of the original inductees of the Women Divers Hall of Fame and is a member of the California Wreck Divers Hall of Fame. In 2009, she was awarded a NOGI for the Arts by the Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Fireside Diver and her work for Skin Diver Magazine is a tribute to how Bonnie gathered not only information, but the works of friends and divers. Her gentle nature was welcoming to all, and just as she put pages together of a monthly publication, she put divers together with divers, people together with people, and friends with friends. Her career required her to be selective and critical, but her attitude was soft and nonjudgmental.
Her sense of adventure went to the air when on her 50th birthday she did a tandem sky dive over Bakersfield.
Sometime after leaving Skin Diver Magazine, Bonnie moved from the Los Angeles area to Santa Maria and picked up on her big (hidden to most) love of writing murder mysteries. She is the author of the Cinnamon Greene Adventure Mysteries, which at the time of her passing included three books: The Bride Wore Black, Murder Dives the Bahamas, and Murder Dives the Caribbean. All of these books remain available on Kindle/Amazon.com, with followers who had written praises of her “short story caper(s)” and “fun, engaging repertory.”
Bonnie was a long-time member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and her short stories appeared in various anthologies including SinC/LA’s Last Exit to Murder. She also edited their newsletter and was the “cub” reporter (complete with hat and press pass) where her constant snapping of photos transformed up and coming authors into celebrities.
We bid farewell to our underwater Boswell, and see her writing in the clouds, while her work on earth remains in the ICloud.
Bonnie is survived by son Michael Cardone, daughter Pamela Cardone, sister Susan Rittschof, and brother Dan Ritschof.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests the following for donations in Bonnie’s name:
USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, online at https://dornsife.usc.edu/hyperbaric/donate/
The Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences: https://www.auas-nogi.org/ click on “Donate”