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                        In Remembrance of Nona Bingham  AKA Minnie Pearl

Nona Bingham was born in Myrtle Creek Oregon, December, 1914 and passed in Medford, November, 2020

As a girl of 18, Nona responded to a challenge that she did not have nerve enough to leave town. That very day,
with $27 and a bus ticket to Los Angeles she headed south.

                                                      Was she scared? “Yes”.  Was she determined? “Yes”.

With her exuberant curiosity and desire to seek adventure she survived and thrived.  Nona married, had two
children, appeared in movies, and made documentaries.  Her sister owned a chain of stores where she worked
as a cashier and bookkeeper.

In 1980 at the age of 75, Nona moved to Portland to be near her brother. Here she worked as an extra in
the many movies being made in Portland at the time.

In 1991 Nona was a founding member of the now well-established
Northwest Senior Theatre.  This is where she
took on the persona of “Minnie Pearl” and performed to the delight of audiences. She also travelled all over the United
States performing in nursing homes and urging the residents to “Get up off your butts and don’t just sit there”.  

Her philosophy was, “Everyone has a certain amount of time to enjoy life. I don’t really feel old, but I think
you’ve got to keep your mind and your body busy. Maybe that’s it. As long as you keep moving, you’ll be able
to keep on going.”

In 1914 Teddy Roosevelt went on a cruise to open the Panama Canal.  In 2014, 100 years later, Nona took that
same cruise to the canal where she was invited to perform her Minnie Pearl routine.  The performance was a huge
success and she was invited to continue cruising to entertain on other voyages.  She declined.

Sue Tenison, Artistic Director of NST, says she still gets asked when Nona will perform again. Alas, “Minnie Pearl”
was last seen on the NST stage in 2014 when she was 100 years young.

Nona spent her last years in Medford with her daughter, Joan. Together they hit the gym four times a week where
she walked the treadmill, lifted weights and worked on the machines. She also entertained the other “gym rats” with
impersonations of Minnie and one liners.

When asked about her gym routine she responded, “I do this because I wouldn’t be able to walk if I didn’t.”

Here she is at 98 – working out.




 Photo by Julia Moore
 from an article in Medford Mailtribune