Great Bend native Marty Keenan will present a program about Great Bend’s Spy, Joan Valerie Bondurant at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, at the Barton County Historical Society. Keenan has spent the past several years researching Bondurant in preparation for publishing a book about her life.
Bondurant was born at home at 2320 Broadway Ave., Great Bend, the daughter of Price and Minnie Bondurant. Bondurant owned and operated Bondurant Hardware in downtown Great Bend for many years. Joan was valedictorian of the 1937 graduating class from Great Bend High School, going on to study voice and music at the University of Michigan.
Following World War II, she took a quick course in written Japanese. With a dire need for translators, she was approached by the Office of Strategic Services and served one year in San Francisco interpreting Japanese documents and maps; she then was sent to India to translate Japanese documents seized from Japanese soldiers in Burma.
Bondurant and a friend were soon given a second mission, to infiltrate the Indian Independence movement and report to the United States the goings-on. She carefully studied Gandhi’s methods and prior to leaving India, she was able to meet him.
While teaching political science at California State University in Berkley, she published “Conquest of Violence” in 1958, still the most authoritative book in the West on Gandhi’s method of Satyagraha, “insistence on truth.”
The program is open to the public for $5 admission and is free to members of the historical society and those under the age of 16. The museum is located at 85 S. Hwy. 281, Great Bend. Those wishing to become members may join the night of the program at the door. Refreshments will be served following the program.