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Barbara Jeanne Banks
Jeanne Banks, born Barbara Jean Johnson in 1934 in Portsmouth, Virginia, passed peacefully from this world on Sunday, February 13, 2022. She was at home in Suffolk, surrounded by her children and held in loving prayerfulness by many people all around the world.
Jeanne was born the middle of five children to Thad and Lula Johnson. Growing up in Portsmouth and being sister to Delores, John, Alice and Charles, her life was filled with times of great joy and much laughter. The church was center in their lives and is where she began sharing her gift for performing. She and her siblings remained close all their lives.
Jeanne began her adventure-filled life when she attended Columbia Bible College in South Carolina at age 16. It was there she met John S. Banks, whom she wed in 1952. Their marriage lasted 68 years, until John’s death in October 2020.
During those long years, Jeanne and John raised five children of their own. While John pursued a career in the ministry, Jeanne supported him by singing in choirs and shepherding the women and families of the congregations.
Jeanne’s commitment and service continued as John joined the U.S. Army in 1966. Their 27 moves started out in South Carolina, followed by Arkansas, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Illesheim, Germany; Connecticut, Maryland, West Berlin, Germany; Georgia and finally Suffolk. Wherever she went she never felt like a stranger, always made friends and did her best to use her God-given gifts.
This service included her dedication to the Protestant Women of the Chapel in Germany, eventually leading to her work with the European chapter and traveling around the continent. Jeanne became involved with Pilot International, for which she served as a charter member of the Nansemond River branch, eventually becoming President and serving as Governor for the Virginia District.
For many years she also led the volunteers at Suffolk’s Obici Hospital and became state President of the Virginia Association of Hospitals and Healthcare Volunteers.
Jeanne was also President & Vice President of the local AARP chapter, but her favorite position there was being cook and providing meals to their monthly meetings for many years.
When she was told no funding existed to put a Christmas wreath on every gravesite at the local Albert G. Horton Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Jeanne rallied friends and family, and placed the groundwork for what would become the nonprofit Horton Wreath Society.
Jeanne also chaired the Relay for Life, served as a Hospice volunteer, the Area Council on Aging, March of Dimes, Kings Fork Women’s Club, delivered Meals on Wheels, and drove cancer patients to appointments. She was an active member of Suffolk Presbyterian Church for many years. Cooking and baking for others was an act of love throughout her life, especially sharing her brownies! There were many other examples of service and commitment to others throughout her life, all done in the name of Christ.
During her life, she experienced great joy and love, but she also knew great pain and loss. She lived through poverty, the Great Depression, hunger, war, and the loss of her first daughter, Mary Alice.
Jeanne will be mourned by the many who have been blessed by her friendship and benevolence, and especially by her children, John (Nancy Barton), Thaddeus, Timothy (Susan Douglas), Sarah (Manfred Bowen), and Deborah; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; her loving in-laws, Mary Ellen Johnson, Cynthia and Barry Cooke, Cy and Candi Lemmond, Paula Banks Chandler; and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life service will held on Saturday, February 19th at 2 p.m at Suffolk Presbyterian Church followed by a reception. A visitation will be held Friday, February 18th from 4 to 6 p.m. as well at the church. Interment will be at a later date at Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Suffolk, Va.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Horton Wreath Society, a charity of your choice, or, as Jeanne would say, “Just share your gifts with others!” R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, Downtown Suffolk Chapel is serving the family.
Our time together — Ft. Hamilton, Germany, and Maryland —has been special ..She has done so much good and is a blessed example. Joe &?I treasure our memory of Jeanne and John.
Mary Dulany Feb 19 2022 8:35 AM
She was a remarkable lady. I am so glad I was a friend. I'll always remember that beautiful smile.
Sara Harbour Feb 17 2022 2:34 PM
Jeanne was such a special woman! I was privileged to be in her presence on several occasions with my sister,Mary Ellen Johnson.
So thankful I had the joy of knowing her. May God bless her children, grandchildren and other family who will miss her so much.
We will see you in Heaven. Maybe soon
Jean Bragg Wallace Feb 17 2022 1:19 PM
A candle was lit in memory of Barbara Banks
Laura Nader_McGivern Feb 16 2022 5:50 PM
The world will never be the same without this beautiful women. I was so blessed to have known her and she was never forgotten even with distance and time between us. There are few that leave such a impression on you, she was one. God Bless you Mrs Banks the Lord is surely holding you tight in his loving arms. My prayers go out to the family for their loss is great. God Bless all of you
Dawn Walsh Feb 16 2022 5:08 PM
I only met Jeanne through my sister. Mary Ellen Johnson (her sister-in-law who was married to Jeanne's brother Charles Johnson). Mary Ellen always spoke very highly of Jeanne and all of the Johnson family. I know Jeanne will be missed so much by her family and all who loved her. God Bless her family and Rest in Heavenly Peace Jeanne.
Joyce Costa Feb 16 2022 12:32 PM
Jean, you were such a bright light in so many lives. You will be missed beyond words. Much love and hugs to Jeans family and friends. 🥲🥲
Denise Russell Feb 16 2022 11:57 AM