compiled by Columbian staff in 1989

Much of the credit for Clark County's written history -- especially the most accurate history -- belongs to a quiet newspaperman who loved to ferret out facts.

His name was Milton bona, and before his death in 1986 he was considered the foremost authority on the eastern half of the county. His specialty was digging into the history of Camas and Washougal and of the Indians who lived there centuries before the first white man arrived.

Born in New York, Bona lived in Washington most of his life. After graduating in journalism from the University of Washington, he became news editor of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record in 1931, a job that in those Depression days paid $25 per week.

Between assignments running down and writing small-town news for the paper, bona enjoyed his hobby of exploring the past in the paper mill town. This paid off with a booklet written for Crown Zellerbach that remains the definitive source for later generations of local historians.

Bona remained with the Post-Record until 1942, after which he handled public relations for the Vancouver Housing Authority during the population explosion of the shipyard years.

After the war, Bona started his own PR firm, Milt Bona and Associates. In 1963, he became the first full-time public relations director of the Clark Public Utilities, formerly known as the Clark Public Utility District, a position he held until his retirement in 1970.

Most of Bona's post-retirement writing was for the Clark County Historical Society. He was a frequent contributor to the society's annual historical publication, served as its editor, and was a trustee from 1967 to 1979.

Bona, who died Oct. 26, 1986, was a stickler for accuracy and had little patience with those who tried to write about historical events without doing the necessary research.

Return to profiles