Helen Mary Thomas Bankey

Published 8:48 pm Monday, May 23, 2016

Helen Mary Thomas Bankey passed away on May 19, 2016, at her home in Verbena.

She was born Jan. 11, 1925, in Tovey, Ill. to Douglas and Helen Foltynewicz McWhinnie.

Helen grew up in Christian County, Ill., where she graduated from Morrisonville High School in 1943. Helen married Billy J. Thomas on July 29, 1944. Shortly after their marriage, Bill shipped out for the South Pacific and proudly served with the United States Marine Corps for the duration of WWII.

Helen settled in to wait for Bill in Taylorville, where she worked at the munitions plant in Illiopolis during the war.

After the war they bought a home in Edinburg where their four children were raised. Helen was a loving, devoted wife, mother and homemaker.

They bought a farm in Taylorville after the family was raised. Bill was working at Caterpillar by that time, and their life became easier; they really enjoyed their farm. Helen’s kitchen was a gathering place for the family, friends and anyone who stopped by, and there were many. She always had something to eat there and something sweet to top it off. Helen always made Sunday dinner and the best pies and cobblers.

Helen and Bill enjoyed fishing together and traveled from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to find great fishing spots. Bill was known as “Deep Water,” and Helen was his faithful sidekick. Oh the stories they told of their great adventures.

After Bill passed away in 1983, she stayed on the farm and enjoyed her family. She traveled to Minnesota and Texas and Alabama to visit her children. Her world was her family during those years.

In 1993, Helen met Arnold Bankey on one of her trips to Texas. They enjoyed a sweet romance and married in 1994. Helen moved to Texas, where she and Arnold spent their time traveling and dining out. Sadly, it wasn’t to last long; Arnold passed away in 1995.

However, when God closes one door he opens another.

In 1999 Helen and her daughter, Barbara, bought an older home in Verbena and moved from Texas in 2001. She was happy to be nearer to her son, Paul, and his family. Helen loved her home and was hands-on during the renovations. She just dove in, took everything in stride and laughed a lot. Her son Ed was able to spend a lot of time with her during that time.

Helen was happy; her home was once again full with family. She was a lot closer to Illinois in Alabama and the children loved it. They always loved coming to Grandma’s in Alabama, and she loved them.

Helen had a quick wit and a great sense of humor. She would often send her family into fits of giggles or laughter so hard you cried.

Helen had always been drawn to the little white church on the way to the river, and in 2009 she became a member there, Corinth Missionary Baptist Church. She loved her little white church and her church family.

These years were her last earthly adventure before her Savior Jesus called her home.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents, James Douglas and Helen Foltynewicz McWhinnie; her three brothers Daniel, Lawrence and Douglas McWhinnie; one daughter, Marie Elaine Thomas; and one son, Roger Kenneth Thomas; one grandchild, Thomas Ross Fairchild; and her husbands, Billy J. Thomas and Arnold O. Bankey.

She is survived by her daughter, Barbara Wood of Verbena; two sons, Edward W. (Ann) Thomas of Taylorsville, Ill., and Paul R. (Cindy) Thomas of Verbena. She is also survived by six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Martin Funeral Home directing.