Four decades of serving Sisters
Last updated 11/9/2023 at 6:39pm
Dr. Bonnie Malone, longtime Sisters chiropractor, is retiring and closing her clinic as of November 27. For over 42 years in Sisters, Malone has been deeply engaged in the life of the community, well beyond her chiropractic practice.
Malone, her dog, Morgan, and her horse, Caesar, arrived in Sisters in late May 1981, when the population was around 800 and the speed limit through town was 30 mph. In those days, Sisters was a logging town. The major employers were the U.S. Forest Service and logging companies.
Malone moved to Sisters because her sister lived in Tumalo, and every time she came for a visit, Malone fantasized about riding her horse across the wide-open Central Oregon countryside. Hull Dolson, owner of The Nugget Newspaper, had a spot in his building where Malone opened her chiropractic practice on June 8, 1981, in what is now part of The Nugget office.
After her first year in practice, a Redmond medical clinic opened in the other end of the current Nugget building (The Nugget was at that time housed in the building behind). Malone and the clinic shared that small space until 1989.
"Dr. Steve Spear, DMD, offered space to me when he planned a medical complex on Adams and Pine. It was too large for my needs, so he invited the medical clinic as well. Dr. Spear also fenced the back of the clinic so I could ride my horse to work," Malone said.
"I missed the medical clinic when they sold it to another provider. I had purchased my home in 1988, less than a mile from town, so I built a clinic next to my home after more than 18 years in the city limits," Malone said.
Malone joined the Sisters Rodeo Association in 1982 wanting to be involved with community service. She served for 30 years as a member of the Rodeo Board.
After Sisters Rotary was established, she became an active member. Malone also became a member of her church council. She served on the Oregon Board of Chiropractors Peer Review Committee for six years and as the chair for four years. When Sisters Kiwanis invited members of local organizations to begin discussions about a project to bring a latchkey program for youth, and eventually an activities district, to the community, Malone was the representative from Rodeo. Within a few years of diligent effort, they had formed Sisters Organization for Activities and Recreation (SOAR) as a nonprofit.
Malone added, "The School District was a great partner in this, giving us a building (which was their mechanical storage facility) to begin after-school care and then 'renting' us land to build our own facility near our new high school. We became a very lightly funded tax district in the mid-1990s, so fundraising was an ongoing need.
"There are so many generous people in Sisters Country, with an extraordinary focus on enhancing the lives and education of our youth," Malone recounted. "That kept us afloat at SOAR for many years. In 1999, we held a fundraiser for the new building with a New Years Eve party at Hotel Sisters called 'SOAR into the Millennium.' It was hugely successful, thanks to so many people, businesses, individual donors, and organizations. We built our building with no taxpayer funds. It is now home to Sisters Parks & Recreation District (SPRD), a name change from SOAR.
"I continued to feed my original degree, my 'journalism child' by being invited to write an anonymous gossip column for The Nugget throughout the 1980s called 'Around Town.' I also wrote freelance stories and, for a few decades, all the press releases for the Rodeo Association," Malone said.
Probably one of the most well-known facts about Malone is her avid support of the University of Oregon Ducks, having season football tickets for years. She also served on the Central Oregon Duck board for 10 years, the mission of which is to generate support for the university and to fundraise.
Anyone who knows Malone knows that animals have always been a big part of her life - both at work and play. When she purchased a potbelly pig in 1989, he became quite well-known in Sisters. Market (the pig) was often entertainment on the lawn of the Adams Avenue clinic for all providers' patients.
Her once-in-a-lifetime horse Caesar was born in 1968, and accompanied her to college, to Portland, and to Sisters. He was an Arab, Morgan, and Tennessee walker mix and a well-known resident of Sisters who celebrated his birthday at Yukon Jack's with large parties complete with gifts from his friends.
While in Portland, Malone acquired a great Dane/English pointer mix puppy who weighed 105 ponds at five months. After moving to Sisters, Morgan used to visit the elementary school, where one student was concerned by his skinny frame. Malone had a tag made for his collar that read, "My name's Morgan. I'm not skinny. I'm old." He lived to be 16. When he died in the straw in Malone's loafing shed, Caesar stood guard over him, and nuzzled Malone's face when she came out and found Morgan.
Malone and her horses have been a constant in Sisters for over 40 years. She moved here with Caesar and later had Windy, Rage, Stella, and now Bill. She has covered hundreds of miles of trails around Central Oregon. She rode her horses in the Rodeo Parade for 16 years, winning first place in the equestrian division in elaborate costumes for 12 of those years. After that, she rode as part of the Rodeo Board.
Malone has enjoyed many great riding partners.
"In the mid-1980s, three of us decided to do 'moonlight rides' during the full moon from May to October. The group grew every month over the next few years until we had one ride with 32 people. Returning from one of our rides, we rode the highway through town at about 2 a.m., tied up at The Gallery, and went in for a breakfast cooked by owner Jim Cheatham," Malone said.
Growing up on the Oregon Coast, Malone spent her childhood riding her horse on seven miles of beach and jumping driftwood. At Taft High School, Malone served as the editor of the high school yearbook and wrote a gossip column for the high school newspaper, planting the seeds for her attending the University of Oregon, where she double majored in journalism and political science.
After graduation, Malone put her journalism degree to work at The Oregonian in the advertising department, hoping to work her way up. She also worked as vacation relief at Albertson's and Fred Meyer, where she knew the original Fred. But those jobs just didn't rev her engine.
Malone began her chiropractic studies in January 1978, finishing up in 3.5 years by attending summer school. Upon graduating, Malone relocated to Sisters and the rest is history.
"My practice kept me so busy that I wonder how I managed to do such a variety of activities and work full-time," Malone admitted. "Yet I had the luxury of waking with a smile every Monday morning, excited that I was going back to work."
"I don't feel guilty about retiring and leaving my patients because we have several great chiropractors in town," she concluded.
Malone is an example of a long-time resident who loves Sisters and has generously given back to the community both professionally and with her time, talent, and resources as a dedicated volunteer.
Editor's Note: A longer, more detailed version of this story is available to online subscribers at http://www.nuggetnews.com.