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1944 Robert 2020

Robert (Bob) Earl Bonwell

January 17, 1944 — April 2, 2020

Indianapolis, Indiana

Robert (Bob) Earl Bonwell, 76, of Indianapolis passed away on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

Born on January 17, 1944 to the late Robert P. and Lucile (Gentry) Bonwell of Crawfordsville. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Susanne (Birdcell) Bonwell.

Bob graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1962. He was a star hurdler and played football and basketball. He attended IU and later graduated from both the Indiana School of Mortuary Science and the Indiana State Police Academy.
Bob longed to be an entrepreneur. He always said he wanted to own his own business and have a shop to work in and fix things. He made those dreams a reality when he started Advantage in 1984. Bob built Advantage the old-fashioned way – handshake deals, hard work, grit, and determination.
Bob led the company through the transition from a small carpet cleaning company to a full service cleaning & restoration supply house known today as Advantage – Experts in Clean with locations in Indiana, Ohio, & Michigan.
Bob’s motto was “You Can’t Outperform Your Knowledge.” He believed in self-improvement and education, driving him to work with industry colleagues and Purdue University to help develop a degree program in disaster restoration.

Not one to retire, Bob maintained an active life working at Advantage. He loved to travel with family and friends, work with customers to expand and grow their businesses, and ride his Ranger on the open prairies of South Dakota rounding up cattle. He loyally cheered on the Colts as a season ticket holder thru 3 and 13 seasons, Captain Comeback, Peyton Manning, the Superbowl, and Andrew Luck.

He enjoyed telling stories of summers spent working on his uncle’s farm and his escapades as a State Trooper. Favorite travel memories of his include a Route 66 road trip, river and ocean cruises, 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, and golf trips with his lifelong high school friends.

Bob’s eternal optimism showed in the way he loved life and found fun in whatever he was doing. We’ll miss family dinners at Stookey’s (the only restaurant we could all agree on), his childlike enthusiasm for opening wrapped (no gift bags allowed) birthday and Christmas presents, his love of vanilla ice cream (especially with butterscotch syrup), and his love for his family.

Other survivors include daughters Kristen Bonwell and Kari Jackson, son Michael (Erin) Bonwell, his 5 grandchildren: Morgan, Madeline, Mason, Brayden, and Samuel, and his sister Susie (Bill) Main.

Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life will be held at a later date.

Gifts in memory of Bob may be made to the Michael J. Fox and Gary Sinise Foundations or to the Robert Bonwell Scholarship Endowment for Restoration and Reconstruction in Construction Management Technology online at or made payable to the Purdue Foundation and mailed to: Purdue Foundation, Dauch Alumni Center, 403 West Wood, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2007.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert (Bob) Earl Bonwell, please visit our flower store.


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