Ocala couple recalls love between Travolta and son

Published: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 11:30 p.m.

OCALA Among local people who have rubbed elbows with John Travolta and Kelly Preston, Bonnie and Ken Morehardt enjoy a unique vantage point from which to view the Hollywood megastars and their family.

The Morehardts, retired airline pilots who own the 7 Sisters Inn, frequently cater parties and get-togethers at the Travoltas' home in Jumbolair, just north of Ocala, and on several occasions have accompanied the family on long flights in John's plane.

The Travoltas and Morehardts share a love of flying, which brought them together, and a love of food, which brought them closer.

Bonnie said John took an interest in her unique dishes, marveling at how she combined seemingly incongruent spices and ingredients into tasty treats that he and his house guests devoured appreciatively.

But in the midst of serving tomato tarts and chicken pistachio, Bonnie often stole glances at John and Kelly doting on son, Jett, and daughter, Ella Bleu.

She was struck, she said, by the lengths to which the couple went to carve out time for the children during their hectic schedules.

"As one of their gatherings was winding down, I looked down the hallway to where the bedrooms are," Bonnie said. "And there's a sitting room there, and they were all sitting and talking. Every now and then, you'd hear laughter.

"They always spent time with their children, and still do," Bonnie said. "The family gave Jett a wonderful, wonderful life."

Bonnie said Jett was very quiet, but that he loved to play. During flights, he and friends passed the time playing with trucks while Ella played with dolls. Bonnie said Jett was kind and patient with the younger children.

But John was Jett's biggest playmate, she said.

Bonnie chuckled as she recalled one particular moment at the Travolta home. Following a party that she catered, the Travoltas left the house so she and others could clean up. Bonnie left a foil package of John and Jett's favorite brownies on the center island of the kitchen.

She was getting ready to leave when the family returned, and John and Jett began tearing into the brownies "like two big kids."

The last time Bonnie provided catering for the family was Friday morning. She arrived at Jumbolair about 5:30 to load food aboard a plane that would ferry 30 family friends to the Bahamas for a New Year's celebration. The Travoltas were already there.

Several hours later came news of Jett's death. Bonnie said she broke down and cried, then spent a sleepless night fielding phone calls from friends.

"I think we here in Ocala think John and Kelly are part of Ocala, and they really are," she said. "They're out there doing things for the community, holding events for charity and helping everyone. And then when this happened, I think people just wanted to reach out to them."

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