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Bonnie Springs Ranch founder, Bonnie Levinson, dead at 94

(Photo Courtesy: Bonnie Springs)

She was known as a wonderful woman who dedicated her life to making other people happy. Her name is Bonnie Levinson and her death last month, a loss for Las Vegas historians who watched her bring Bonnie Springs to life.

"This was her life, she did a lot of things younger, this is where she ended up," said her son Alan Levinson.

Alan says it was a connection that lasted more than 60 years.

"This was her destiny I guess," he said.

His mother's love for a plot of land that shares her name: Bonnie Springs. The desert oasis is made up of the old western town, restaurant, and especially the petting zoo, where Bonnie Levinson could often be found surrounded by her animals.

"The wolves, right up in her lap, licking her face. It made her day," said Alan.

According to the family, Bonnie passed away after a brief illness on January 29th.

Old News 3 interviews pulled from the 2002 archives reveal that Bonnie Levinson was once offered a buyout by Howard Hughs.

"He finally just sent over a blank check with the real estate man for me to sign to buy the ranch and by that time we already had offers and I didn't want to sell it," she said.

Bonnie bought the land for Bonnie Springs back in the early 1950s. There wasn't much there except an old bar, popular with the local miners. From there, she and her family built everything on the property, creating memories for generations of Southern Nevadans.

Long before she moved to Nevada, Bonnie was a dancer and a professional figure skater. She even went on tour with three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Sonja Henie. Now, a public memorial is being planned in Bonnie's honor. The public is invited out to Bonnie Springs, Saturday, February 13, to say their own goodbyes.

"She used to tell us every day when she came out, I love my animals, they're my vitamins," said Beverly Boyer, Assistant Manager of the petting zoo.

A passion for nature she shared with every guest who ever visited Bonnie Springs. The hostess may be gone, but her legacy lives on as strong as ever.

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