Cascading roses on the arbor at Donaldson-Bannister Farm, a $150,000 endowment for education programs and future gardens at the farm. These are the legacies that Dr. Adrian Gendell Bonser left for the community of Dunwoody.
Adrian’s love of preservation began when the Cheek/Spruill House was at risk of being demolished and continued as Donaldson-Bannister Farm became a Dunwoody city park.
Adrian came to Atlanta for her dental residency at Emory University following dental school at Ohio State University. She opened her private dental practice in Dunwoody in 1992 and later worked for DeKalb Health Services, which included seeing patients at the facility located at Brook Run. When a Georgia Perimeter College parking deck was constructed directly behind her house, she stepped forward to represent the neighborhood and ask for less obtrusive lighting and louvers on one side of the deck.
“I became an activist accidentally,” Adrian explained in a 2018 interview.
Around this time, the Dunwoody YES campaign was ramping up and she was asked to participate. When Dunwoody became a city in 2008, as a visible leader of the community she was asked by some to run for City Council. Adrian became the first woman on the Dunwoody City Council.
In 2012, Adrian and M. J. Thomas had an idea for an event to help the community see the potential of the Donaldson-Bannister Farm. In conjunction with Dunwoody Preservation Trust, they held Preservation Celebration in June and September of that year, with funds donated by Adrian and her husband through the Gendell Family Foundation. Since that time, board members and volunteers of DPT have worked diligently to rehabilitate the home and aprepare the property to be enjoyed by all ages.
In later years, Adrian began a lengthy battle with cancer, a battle which she sadly lost on July 20, 2018. As she fought cancer, she made plans to continue her work for preservation by leaving an endowment with Dunwoody Preservation Trust. She and Brian established the Dr. Adrian Gendell Bonser Endowment Fund.
Adrian also envisioned beautiful climbing roses on the arbor of the farm, and she accomplished this goal before she passed away. She met with DPT leadership, selected New Dawn roses and funded not only the roses themselves, but for them to be planted and trained to climb the arbor. The result of those efforts can now be enjoyed by all on the grounds of the Farm.
Education at Donaldson-Bannister Farm was important to Adrian because she felt that children could benefit by seeing what it was like to grow up on a farm. As summer approaches, the second annual Camp Flashback will bring the farm life experience to children, another of Adrian’s visions are being realized.