Former Fraser teacher, Air Force instructor reflects on life

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published October 21, 2019

 Bob Bondy, 87, lives in Clinton Township. The former Fraser High School teacher was part of the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s, flying planes such as the B-25, like in the picture he’s holding.

Bob Bondy, 87, lives in Clinton Township. The former Fraser High School teacher was part of the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s, flying planes such as the B-25, like in the picture he’s holding.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec

 A rendering of the B-25, one of several planes Bondy learned how to fly.

A rendering of the B-25, one of several planes Bondy learned how to fly.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Bob Bondy has lived quite the life.

Bondy, 87, of Clinton Township, is a resident of American House Lakeside. He lives with his wife, Anna Lou, who is nine years his elder.

Bondy, one of eight children, was born in Windsor, Ontario. When he was 8 years old, the family moved to Mount Clemens. His father replaced boilers in the 1940s, which became more prevalent during the war era.

One day, Bondy’s father took him to get some maple syrup. He recalled watching planes fly in with floats.

“I decided right then and there I wanted to fly,” he said.

Due to credits from his Canadian education, both he and his sister graduated from high school at age 16. Bondy attended three schools in that timespan, eventually graduating from St. Mary Catholic School in Mount Clemens.

He then attended the University of Detroit Mercy in 1949 and 1950, studying aeronautical engineering before dropping out because of the long commute. Due to gasoline being rationed, he had no other choice.

“I was actually flying multi-engine aircraft before I ever got a driver’s license,” Bondy said. “That was due to the war.”

He joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18 and became an airplane and engine mechanic. His high grades, coupled with his interest in the aeronautical field, led to him becoming an instructor.

“If anyone told me in high school I was gonna be a teacher, I would have been on the floor laughing,” he joked.

Bondy was guaranteed that if he didn’t enjoy the experience of teaching, he could get back on the flight line. He was teaching individuals much older than him, including sergeants and others who had returned from Korea, in the area of jet engine mechanics.

Humor helped ease the situation, he recalled. One thing he remembered was hanging a nail on the wall, next to the blackboard, and painting it black. He would walk in and throw his hat on it, to the amazement of the students.

Bondy became acclimated with piloting all sorts of aircraft: the Piper PA-18 Super Cub, the T-6, the T-28, the T-33, the B-58, the B-47, the B-36 and the B-25. After accumulating enough hours piloting the B-25, he became commander of a T-29.

“That’s a beautiful aircraft,” he said. “It had two prop engines, but it also had jet thrusts from the exhaust aimed into augmenter tubes. It even had a reverse thrust, so I could back up. It had a little steering wheel for the nose gear, so I could go in reverse if I had to.”

He trained navigators and bombardiers for strategic air command. The entire time he was in the Air Force, from 1950 to 1957, he was in air training command. While he applied to see action, he was told he was needed to teach.

After leaving the Air Force, he went back to Mercy to become an aeronautical engineer.

“I realized all the sudden that the field had changed,” he said. “Aeronautical engineers were no longer designing and building aircraft. They’re fluid specialists; the air is considered a fluid. They were designing oil pumps and fuel pumps. Not very exciting.”

He took service tests that pointed him to careers including physician, surgeon, veterinarian and science teacher. After marrying his first wife, Barbara Ann, in 1955, he decided that medical school would take too long.

Bondy became a science teacher from 1957 to 1962, while simultaneously working on his master’s degree. He conducted a thesis involving taking young embryos from mice, trying to discover when the pancreas developed and when it started producing insulin and glucagon.

He left to teach at Fraser High School, which he said offered “top-quality science classes” in areas of biology and physics. He thought he fit “beautifully,” teaching slow learners and college preparatory classes to sophomores along with a senior research class slanted toward the medical field.

While at FHS, he took a sabbatical and earned his master’s degree in biology from Oakland University. He returned to FHS, where he started the President’s Club that scheduled social activities for students. He also taught adult education programs.

In 1978, Bondy was awarded “Science Teacher of the Year” for secondary education. He retired from teaching in 1980 because Barbara Ann, a switchboard operator at a local library, had cancer. She fought it for three years, until it reached her liver.

That was “a hell of a year” for Bondy: His wife died, his mother died, and he blew a heart valve while skiing that required repair at the Cleveland Clinic. He was back to flying status within 12 weeks, saying, “I decided (Barbara) got her wings and I decided to get mine too.”

In 1996, Bondy met Anna Lou at a fashion show event at the Clinton Township Senior Center. While she wouldn’t give him her phone number, he got it from her friend. After three years of courting, the couple was married on Sept. 11, 1999.

Bondy and Barbara Ann had no children, but with Anna Lou he has numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren all over the country.

It’s been a wild ride for Bondy, who looks at the world today in a different light.

Years after his teaching endeavors, he said he got involved in genealogy and was shocked to discover that his Canadian ancestors were teachers.

He said he’s had computer tablets sitting in a room for two years, unused. He has a flip phone, or a “dumb phone” as he referred to it, but vowed to get a smartphone soon.

“(Technology) outgrew me so fast I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I feel behind.”

Nowadays, he enjoys his home. He and Anna Lou relax, incessantly joke and take time to smile.

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