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Redmond Ridge resident honors late wife with ‘Aunt Bunny’ cookbook
Bud Barnard knew Annette Bilodeau was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with by the time they had their second date.
It was October 1948 and the two had gone for a picnic on a beach in Hawaii. Despite Barnard’s attempts to create a romantic atmosphere with a nice fire, the wind had other ideas and kicked up sand everywhere. In his mind, the date was in shambles.
Bilodeau, instead of being upset, found the situation amusing and just laughed, which was what sold Barnard.
“This is the gal I’ve been looking for all my life,” Barnard said about what was going through his mind at the time.
The next day Barnard — who had been living in Los Angeles at the time and was only on Oahu to visit his parents — called his boss in California and quit his job to continue courting Bilodeau. Although this was his plan, Bilodeau wasn’t as keen on Barnard as she dated other young men and “allowed” him to be among the rest.
“A lot of people dated her,” Barnard said. “I had a lot of competition.”
But the longtime Bellevue resident and current Redmond Ridge resident was never discouraged or lost heart.
“I must’ve proposed to her 50 times,” he recalls with a laugh. “And she said, ‘I’m not ready to get married.’”
Barnard was 27 at the time. Bilodeau was 20.
On the day after Christmas that year — about two months after they met — Bilodeau decided she was finally ready and agreed to marry Barnard.
“It took me a couple months, but I made it,” Barnard said.
The couple wed on June 17, 1949 and remained married until 2005, when Bilodeau — as Barnard put it — “graduated to heaven.”
Barnard said while Bilodeau was alive, they often had family and friends over for dinner. After her death, he said many of their family and friends contacted him, asking him for his wife’s old recipes.
In the end, so many people requested her recipes that Barnard self published a cookbook featuring about 200 of Bilodeau’s recipes. He soon began receiving cookbook requests from strangers who had learned about it from those who had the book. So in January, Barnard published a second version of the book with Seattle-based Peanut Butter Publishing.
In this second edition of “Aunt Bunny’s Favorite Recipes,” Barnard also includes stories from his and his wife’s lives separately as well as the life they shared for 56 years. Altogether, there are 23 stories — one opening each chapter of the cookbook.
The stories Barnard shares in the cookbook include how he and Bilodeau — whose nickname growing up was Bunny (though he said she never remembered how she got it) — met, how he courted her and their life together as a married couple. Barnard also shares a few adventures they had abroad, including one about the year they spent in Calcutta, India, which ended with a short side trip to Egypt to see the pyramids, the Sphinx and dead city of Cairo Necropolis. The latter visit came just weeks after Egyptians had staged a revolution and ended the country’s status as a British Protectorate.
“I want to celebrate my wife,” he said about why he published the cookbook. “She was the nicest wife anyone can have.”