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Although she’d been battling ill health for some months, friends and family were shocked when Bonnie Bucqueroux died Oct. 13.

The adjunct journalism professor led a class at Michigan State earlier that day — business as usual for Bucqueroux, who’d taught at MSU for 29 years.

“She died with her boots on,” said her husband of 27 years, Drew Howard, at her Oct. 31 memorial service at East Lansing’s People’s Church.

The death of Bucqueroux, 71, left behind not only her husband; sister, Tina Erskine, and niece, Zoe Howard; but also an army of rescued pets; friends, and scores of MSU journalism students whom she followed as they forged their careers.

She was born Bonnie Lee McLanus in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family had moved to Jackson, Michigan, when she was a girl, and she became the editor of the Jackson High School newspaper. With typical nerve, she renamed herself “Bucqueroux” after a divorce.

Armed with just a high school degree and a prodigious intellect, Bucqueroux educated herself into expert status on such topics as the Internet in its early days, gardening, politics and citizen journalism.

She became known in the Lansing area as a leftist political firebrand, radio host and career counselor for innumerable journalism students.

Bucqueroux was editor of the news website Lansing Online News, hosted the “From Left Field” TV show in Lansing and co-hosted, with Bill Castanier, the WLNZ radio show “Lansing Online.” Castanier says he can’t do the show alone.

“I just don’t feel like doing stuff that we did together, alone, or with someone else. It wouldn’t feel right,” Castanier said. “I never met anyone quite like Bonnie in my life. So smart, so caring, and passionate about communication. Always at the cutting edge. What helped that is, she was an insomniac, so she could spend immense amounts of time online.”

Bucqueroux drew Castanier back into political activism. “She got me involved in so many things, I need a pal like her again! Whether it was ‘Black Lives Matter,’ or of course, trashing the (MSU) trustees,” Castanier said with a laugh. “I learned a lot about video, and what a story you could tell with it.”

Bucqueroux, he noted, would use her cellphone to shoot video at trustee meetings, to their later chagrin.

She loved her pack of animals, and sister Tina Erskine recalled, at the Oct. 31 memorial service, how far she and Bucqueroux would go to help animals.

“We had our own doggie underground,” Erskine said. “We abducted abused animals. We took one dog from a drug house south of Kalamazoo when she was running for Congress on the Green Party ticket, in 2000. She named him Goober.”

Howard asked that his wife’s students honor her “by being relentless and brave in your professional and journalistic pursuits, and never forget her. For activists everywhere, remember her bravery and follow her example. She represented the underdog — women, children and animals. She had more balls than the NFL.”

swhitall@detroitnews.com

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