Summary of Gilbert's Story
by William Bonneau
The Gilbert Bonneau Story According to His Family 1947 — Daniel, Michael, and Gilbert Bonneau were placed in St. Colman’s Home. My brother Patrick was taken in by a family friend; I remained with my father. These untimely and tragic turns of events were precipitated by the sudden illness, hospitalization, and subsequent death of my mother (she was only 39 years old at the time of her death). Local authorities would not allow my father to keep us together; they did not believe my father would be able to care for all of us. Against my father’s will, we were all separated – never again to be reunited in our youth as a family.
1950 — Daniel left St. Colman’s and was transferred to another school. Sept. 1953 —Nov. 27,1953 - My family was notified that Gilbert had taken ill and had been sent to the Homes infirmary.
The following day my father was informed that Gilbert's condition drastically worsened; he was removed from the infirmary and taken to Albany Hospital (n/k/a Albany Medical Center). My father, my brother Danny and I immediately went to the hospital.
Danny and I remember that day clearly as it was the last day that we would ever see our brother Gilbert alive. Gilbert was comatose; he had tubes down his throat and up his nose. His head was wrapped in a bandage. Both my brother and I recall spots of blood on the bandage. I was only fourteen years of age at the time of Gilbert’s death and my brother Danny was thirteen. Our father, without question, readily accepted what the doctors told him concerning the cause of Gilbert’s death. My father was heartbroken and was not able to talk to us about Gilbert’s death after that point. My mother was never informed of Gilbert’s death as it was thought that it might make matters worse for her.
Through the years after our little brother passed on, we all thought about him often and we missed him very much. It was very hard for us to know that Gilbert was the most helpless of us all and he was left in St. Colman’s by himself and none of us (his family) were able to be there for him. Of course we all understand now that there was nothing we could do about it, as we ourselves were all very young and we also were placed in various living situations that were out of our control.
More than twenty years had passed since the death of Gilbert, when to our distress we received a most upsetting phone call from a woman claiming to have information surrounding the death of my brother. Her name was Marion Maynard, and she claimed to have resided at St. Colman's Home during the same period of time that my three brothers did. That would place her time of residency anywhere between the years of 1947 - 1953. This mysterious call was made to us in 1978 and it has triggered a chain of events leaving our family with a great many questions that have yet to be clearly answered to our satisfaction. Our family feels strongly that the information given to us by this woman after so many years have transpired, must be true in light of the various discrepancies surrounding all the available paperwork and the suspicious nature and questions surrounding Gilbert’s place of burial. Marion Maynard (caller) claims to have witnessed my brother Gilbert being struck several times over the head with a stick or a piece of wood by a nun. She gave us the nun’s name and also stated that the nun threatened to punish them (other witnesses to the beating) if they repeated the incident to anyone. Marion also stated that Gilbert died the next day at Albany Hospital.
I hope you can now understand the impact that this call has had on our family and our deep desire to get to the truth of this grave matter. Our brother Gilbert was just a poor defenseless 8 year old; in only nine days he would have been nine. His life is very dear and important to us and we feel strongly that those responsible for his well being, now, in light of the various discrepancies surrounding the extensive paperwork, need to thoroughly investigate and adequately answer all of our questions and address all of our concerns.
Many people suggest that we just let this go and forget all about it all. I ask you, if this child were your brother, or sister, or perhaps even your son or daughter, would you be able to let it go so easily? This issue has received extensive media coverage; we have all heard the experts making statements indicating that there was no foul play surrounding the death of my brother Gilbert, however, most of the paperwork we have strongly suggests a different story.
It is the intent of this article to allow the public to examine the facts as they have been presented to us in the relevant documents, and to allow those interested, to see for themselves the reasons why we are not giving up on our search for the truth and why we have so many unanswered questions that need to be properly addressed if our family is to have peace. All we have of our little brother is one picture and many troublesome questions.
There are many things that we find disturbing to us due to the conflicting nature of the documentation presented to us alongside with a variety of other discrepancies surrounding the death and burial of our brother. My brother’s life needs to be accounted for.