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Remembering George "Rist" Bonnefond (1949-2024)

Remembering George "Rist" Bonnefond (1949-2024)

Kents Hill School Community, 

It is with a heavy heart and deep reverence that I share the news that Rist Bonnefond, Headmaster Emeritus, passed away on April 27, 2024, surrounded by his family. The Bonnefond and Smucker families would like to extend an invitation to the Kents Hill School community to attend a celebration of life on Monday, May 20, at 11 a.m. ET at the Bodman Performing Arts Center to remember Rist’s rich life and enduring legacy. It is his vision, care, commitment, and unwavering courage that led Kents Hill to its 200th anniversary and beyond. 

To view the full obituary, please click here. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing the many cherished stories, memories, tributes, and photos of Rist on our school social media pages. This will include an article in the upcoming Kents Hill Today magazine that was read to Rist before his passing. We invite you to submit your story here, which may be featured on these pages and will be shared with Rist’s family and friends. 

In his 2018 commencement address, Rist shared, “I would ask as you depart campus to take a final look at the gold dome sitting atop Bearce Hall. It was renovated in 1999. Not an easy task as the top had to be sawed off the cupola, lifted by a crane, and moved to behind the dining hall for repairs. It may appear that it was simply repainted with gold paint when, in fact, the color is achieved by tiny tiles. Each tile was hand sanded and imprinted with gold leaf then carefully attached to the dome. When you look at the dome, you see its overwhelming beauty, yet perhaps now you can appreciate what each tile brings to the overall appearance. 

It is much like Kents Hill School. Each tile represents one of the many students who have passed through this school. One is that girl who was a top scholar and athlete who is now a doctor in a small town in Maine after rejecting higher paying jobs from out of state. Another is for that boy who struggled mightily to write a paper but is now on his way to becoming a great chef. Yet another is for that kid who could never finish his homework because he would rather play video games, who just graduated from college with a degree in computer game design. And then there is a tile for the boy who was a refugee from war torn Sudan who, because of his time at Kents Hill, was able to attend a highly competitive university and is now a lawyer focusing on immigration issues.

These few are representative of the wide range of students who for nearly two hundred years have made the school the wonderfully diverse and caring place that it is. May it always be so.” 



Christopher S. Cheney, Head of School