For many longtime residents of the Medicine Bow area, Bonnie Culver is a household name.

Until she retired last May, she was the longtime librarian at the Medicine Bow branch of the Carbon County. And with husband Glen, who died about six years ago, the Culvers were a fixture in their community, building a reputation as people anyone could count on in a pinch.

But to hear Bonnie, 84, reflect on a lifetime of public service and volunteerism, she hasn’t done anything special.

“I’m a little surprised,” she said earlier this week when contacted by the Rawlins Times and told she had been nominated as a community Hometown Hero. “The things I do is because something needs to be done.”

In a small, tightly knit community like Medicine Bow, that means neighbors help each other. Even in retirement and slowing down a bit, Bonnie still gets out and about to visit friends who live alone.

“It’s just to make sure they’re doing OK,” she said. “If nothing else, I just talk to them for awhile. I’m one of those people who likes people.”

She still serves as an officer on the Friends of the Museum board and for her Methodist church. Bonnie and Glen also were fixtures in the local square dance community for decades.

“When my husband was alive, we square-danced in Laramie probably for at least 30 years,” she said. “Some of the nicest people are square dancers.”

It’s a wholesome activity that promotes strong, Wyoming values, Bonnie said.

“There’s no alcohol and people follow the rules,” she said. “We really enjoyed doing that.”

Another important effort for the Culvers has been the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary.

“We did that for many, many years — probably 50 years,” she said. “Glen was in the military and the American Legion supports military, and the Auxiliary supports the men.”

She still bakes and gives cookies to veterans on Veterans Day. It’s the least she can do, Bonnie said: “Anything we can do to help support the veterans.”

Longtime friend and Medicine Bow postmistress Kay Embree nominated Culver as someone who goes above and beyond to make a difference for her town.

The Culvers “have been here since the early 1970s and raised three children and have been involved with everything,” said Embree. “If there’s a volunteer needed, she’s the first one. If a neighbor needs a hand, if a kid needs a hand, she’s the first in line.

“That whole family has always been no what can you do for me, but what can we do for you? All the kids have been brought up that way and now they’re like that.”

Bonnie sets the tone, Embree said. So much so that her 2-year-old grandson calls her Grandma Bonnie. And he’s not alone in that.

“She’s the extra grandma to a lot of kids here,” Embree said. “I really believe she has taught a lot of our children just to be kind and generous with what you have, even if it’s just kind words and a smile.”

Bonnie said she appreciates the values people learn from living in small towns.

“I’ve always said that I thought people in town think they know your business better than you do,” she said. “But when the chips are down, they’re right there to help you out any way they can and lend a hand.

“That’s the reason I like this town, because everybody helps each other. If you really need something, there’s someone who’s got our back.”

Now in her twilight years, Bonnie admits that “I’ve slowed down,” but her drive to help others hasn’t waned.

“I’m in pretty good health and I’ll probably be sorry I’ve ratted on so,” she quipped, adding that in Medicine Bow, she’s nothing special because everyone gives back. “I don’t need a spotlight on me. My friends know what I do and what I don’t do.”

As with most areas of everyday life, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how Bonnie can get around and her visits with friends and neighbors.

“Oh, it’s been hard,” she said about dealing with the virus. “I had my shots, and then I caught COVID. I wasn’t extremely sick, but it was hard because we couldn’t go to the senior center to go pick up our food or have it delivered to us.

“When you’re used to being around people, then having to wear a mask and keep a distance — that was hard, especially for the people who live alone. You try to call them and check on them. I’m ready for this to be over with, but I think it isn’t.”

“Grandma Bonnie” is a good example for younger generations of Medicine Bow, Embree said.

Bonnie said she’ll continue living a simple life by her interpretation of the Golden Rule: “Treat people kind, and if they need help, give them a hand up.”

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