Wine educator and arts lover Bonnie Delsener could tackle any job

Bonnie Delsener played a huge role in husband Chip's wine business, A.H.D. Vintners in Warren. (Family photo)

Bonnie Delsener played a large role in husband Chip’s wine business, A.H.D. Vintners in Warren. She also taught wine classes at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial and Macomb Community College and was instrumental in community arts groups. (Family photo)

The life of Bonnie Whalen Delsener was like so many of the fine wines she taught Detroiters about – vibrant and packed with power, finesse and complexity.

Mrs. Delsener, 59, of Grosse Pointe Park died June 1, less than a year after the diagnosis of an aggressive form of brain cancer.

She was active in the fine arts, gardening, business and wine education around Metro Detroit.

She is described by husband Anthony Charles “Chip” Delsener as bringing “boundless joy and pleasure to all endeavors” whether it was accompanying him on wine buying trips around the world for the family wine business, A.H.D. Vintners in Warren, or serving the Friends of Arts & Flowers at the Detroit Institute of Arts, or organizing the most legendary block parties in the Pointes.

Mrs. Delsener taught wine appreciation classes at Macomb Community College and the Grosse Pointe War Memorial for 17 years, and the day she first got sick she was doing something typical: preparing a dinner party for 12 and getting ready for house guests.

Friend Leslie Rentschler called her a “force of nature.”

Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon of Plum Market reflects on Bonnie and her savviness in wine and life: “I was lucky enough to have known Bonnie for most of my professional life. I valued her opinion because it was always honest and unaffected, and reflected authentic experience.”

Mrs. Delsener was born in Detroit, graduated from St. Mary of Redford High School and received her fine arts degree from the University of Detroit. She first worked in the arts for Michigan Opera Theatre, Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park in New York City, Santa Fe Opera Company and “The Muppets.”

Michigan Opera Theatre’s founding general director David DiChiera hired her as a costume designer straight out of college.

In recent years, she assisted the Detroit Institute of Arts in developing the fall lecture series.

She possessed strong organization skills and worked in sales and was office manager of the family wine business. She was a master gardener and was past president of the Pointe Garden Club and IBEX, a women’s arts group.

Besides her husband, she is survived by son Anthony, mother Mary Whalen, and siblings Mary Wright, Ronald (Catherine Carr), William (Carol), David (Wanda), Helene, Donald (Jen) and Daniel (Leeann).

There will be an Irish wake to celebrate Mrs. Delsener’s life at noon Monday July 1, at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.

You can contact Sandra Silfven at