She had a smile that won’t soon be forgotten and her life made an impact on the lives of her friends.

“She had that smile. She always had that smile, you know, everybody knew that smile,” recalled Merritt resident Janet Poehnell.

Earlier this month, Merrittonian Bonnie Tymofievich passed away.

Her friends Poehnell and Tammy Dewit are spearheading a memorial for her at the local Mormon church this Saturday.

They told the Herald someone like Tymofievich deserves an appropriate sendoff, especially because she cared so much about other people.

It was that sympathetic aspect of her personality that made her stand out to her friends. Poehnell said despite Tymofievich having her own troubles, she was always more concerned about others.

“She was more concerned with if you were OK,” Poehnell said.

Prior to living in Merritt, Tymofievich spent 22 years living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and became an advocate for helping the homeless.

“She just did her own thing; trying to help people out wherever she could,” Poehnell said. “She had a heart of gold and everybody that ever came across her knew that.”

The Downtown Eastside is where Tymofievich developed her sympathy for homelessness, Dewit said.

Tymofievich also lived with Down syndrome, a condition where a person is born with an extra chromosome, which causes intellectual disability and physical abnormalities.

She lived on her own terms and was a woman who was proud that she was very independent, Poehnell and Dewit said.

Her personality was 10 times bigger than herself, Poehnell said.

“Oh boy, how do you describe Bonnie,” Dewit said with a laugh.

Poehnell and Dewit knew Tymofievich through their church, but Poehnell said that even before going to that church she knew who Tymofievich was because Tymofievich would always say hello to her whenever they’d bump into each other around town.

“She didn’t even know me and she’d just [say] ‘Hi, how are you today?’” Poehnell said.

Poehnell said she first truly met Tymofievich outside of Cooper’s Foods.

Though she didn’t know her, Tymofievich offered to help Poehnell carry her groceries.

“She said, ‘Here, let me help you with that.’ I said, ‘It’s OK, I’m fine,’” Poehnell said.

But Tymofievich was insistent.

“She said, ‘No, I’m Bonnie, what’s your name?’ I said, ‘I’m Janet,’ and she goes, ‘Let me help you with that. Now we’re friends, right?” Poehnell said, noting that Tymofievich made her feel like she wasn’t talking to a stranger.

“That’s Bonnie, she was just amazing,” Poehnell said.

Dewit told the Herald that Tymofievich was well known at places such as the food bank, the soup kitchen, the hospital and the library.

Tymofievich was 49 when she passed away on Jan. 8.

Her two friends said they don’t know exactly what the cause of her death was because as non-family members, they were not privy to that information from doctors, and none of her family live in Merritt.

The memorial service for Bonnie Tymofievich will be at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25 in the Church of the Latter-day Saints at 2451 Springbank Ave.