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Jessie Howard Banks
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Birth: Oct. 10, 1907
Jefferson County
Alabama, USA
Death: Nov. 19, 2010
Peoria County
Illinois, USA

PEORIA, IL - Jessie Howard Banks, 103, of Rosewood Care Center in Peoria, Ill., passed away at 3 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 19, 2010, at Rosewood Care Center.

She came to Peoria from the Covenant House Nursing Home in Dayton, Ohio, in 2006. Mrs. Banks was born on Oct. 10, 1907, in Bessemer, Ala., to Walter Richmond and Margaret Ann (Lamar) Howard. She married Robert Raymond Townsend and had two daughters from that union, Roberta Arlena Mack and Wardell Elese Graves. Mr. Townsend died in 1963. She later married Ganzie Banks, who preceded her in death in April 1989.

She is survived by one daughter, Wardell Elese Graves of Peoria, Ill.; seven grandchildren: Hattie Ruth Rudd, Walter (Clemmie) Graves and George (Martha) Graves Jr., of Peoria, Ill., Harold (Penny) Graves of Waterloo, Iowa, Robert (Debbie) Mack of Colorado Springs, Colo., Laraine (Elton) Bryson of Peoria, Ill., and the Rev. Joyce (Mack) Scheyer of Lincoln, Neb.; 26 great-grandchildren; 17 great-great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews and friends all who adored her.

Her parents; one daughter, Roberta Mack; two sisters; and three grandchildren preceded her in death.

Mrs. Banks graduated in 1933 from Rosenwald High School in Harlan, Ky., as valedictorian of the first African American class to be allowed to attend the school. In 1934, she attended Morristown Junior College in Tennessee to study education and later enrolled in Paducah Kentucky Junior College. She received a B.A. degree in elementary education from Kentucky State University in 1942 and received her master's degree in curriculum and teaching from Columbia University in New York City in 1952 after being denied admission to the University of Kentucky because of her race. She attended the University of Dayton and Wright State University for post graduate work and received an Ohio special education certification.

She taught school for 43 years, 31 years in Harlan County, Ky., and 12 years in Dayton, Ohio, retiring in 1979.

She was a member of Allen Temple AME Church in Bessemer, Ala., and later joined her second husband at Summit Christian Church in Dayton. She was the oldest family member of the church, a mother of her church and sang in the choir, prior to moving to Peoria. She helped many people and taught music lessons on the piano.

She was a past member of the Eastern Star, a strong advocate for education and taught her students how to make quilts and many life skills while teaching and serving as principal in a one-room school and at African American-only schools.

She enjoyed crocheting, sewing and making quilts.

Mrs. Banks will be laid to rest at Swan Lake Memory Gardens.

Published in Peoria Journal Star on November 24, 2010
Swan Lake Memory Gardens
Peoria County
Illinois, USA
Created by: Jeanette
Record added: Dec 01, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62409485
Jessie <i>Howard</i> Banks
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Added by: JamieK
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