Bonita Pothier: the definition of a trailblazer

A story by Biddeford Cultural & Heritage Center Voices of Biddeford project from Early 1900s to current

Voices of Biddeford interview with Bonita Pothier on February 8, 2024

Although Bonita Pothier did not set out to be a trailblazer, she had definite ideas about how she wanted to live her life and she took the steps necessary to get there, even when it wasn’t easy.

The granddaughter of immigrants from Quebec, she treasures her life surrounded by a big, close-knit family.

Best known as Biddeford's first female mayor, Bonita had a wide ranging career path from teaching to business owner, recycling, economic development, banking and County Representative for Senator Angus King.

At her core, she was driven by commitment to her children. She was asked, "How do you do all that and have kids?" In her own words, "They were my foundation. I don't see it as one or the other (work or family)… I wanted them to experience the wholeness rather than being a part…I feel fortunate that I was able to spend my time, part of it in the public eye, while still having my children exposed to all the richness that is Biddeford."

The top 5 highlights include:
*Role that speaking French played for her paternal grandfather in World War I and finding a bride in France
*Discovering a powerful connection between her father’s World War II paratrooper experience and that of another Biddeford interview.
*Selected to play a leadership role to facilitate the integration with Biddeford High after the closure of St. Louis High School and lessons she learned that helped in the future for the merger of the Biddeford and Saco Chambers
*Overcoming a difficult divorce and financial situation
*Most significant impact she feels she had in each step of her career

Campaign for Biddeford Mayor - From Journal 9-18-1989

Bonnie with her 3 young children at the time she was mayor

Bonnie and her adult children when inducted in 2022 Biddeford Hall of Fame

Recorded on February 8, 2024

View a transcript of this interview and more pictures/additional information

See more stories from the Voices of Biddeford project.

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