Edith L. Sanks (1920 - 2010)

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Edith Lapham Millen Sanks, 89, of Bozeman passed away Aug. 14, 2010. She was born Oct. 19, 1920, in San Antonio, Texas, to George Park and Margaret (Davidson) Millen.

When Edith was 12 years old, her father passed away, and her mother took her and her sister, Martha, to Castlederg, Northern Ireland, to live with her grandparents. She went to boarding school at Colerain, and studied nursing at Guy's Hospital in London. During World War II, she lived in Oxford where she heard the first buzz bomb. Bullets from fighter planes hit her ward.

After the war, she became Joyce Cary's (important English novelist) secretary and nursed him after he became completely helpless. He would dictate his novels to her till his death.

She moved to America in the early '90s where she worked for Dr. Volney Steele, a pathologist who moved to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital to establish a pathology lab. He asked her to join him in Bozeman. She got off the train in January with blue skies, sun sparkling on the snow, and decided then and there never to leave. She also worked for a short time as secretary to Dean Aslesen in the Department of Agriculture at Montana State University.

Edith became interested in skiing and served as secretary for the ski club. She soon had a wide circle of friends, particularly Jeanne Roby, who had married an American serviceman. She along with Jeanne and Harold Roby were some of the original founders of Valley View Golf Club on Kagy Boulevard, and Edith became its secretary. In addition to golf, she enjoyed playing duplicate bridge, and loved music.

She was married briefly to Art Stapleton.

She later married Glenn Harrington and acquired two devoted stepchildren. Glenn passed away about 1992, and she nursed him through his last illness.

Robert Sanks and his wife, Mary, became casually acquainted with Edith at Young at Heart, an exercise class at MSU. While the instructor was playing snatches of records to decide which to use, Edith would dance gracefully. After Mary died in 1994, Robert and Edith began a five-year courtship. They were married Dec. 2, 1999, but maintained the courtship until her death. They enjoyed traveling extensively, to the Galapagos Islands, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Monterey, Banff and Jasper, the Hudson River, New England Islands, the Bahamas, Rhone River in France, Ireland, Australia, and three hunting safaris in Africa.

Edith was a generous philanthropist, including the Bozeman Symphony, the Museum of the Rockies, the nursing school at MSU, the MSU Foundation and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Foundation.

Edith is survived by her husband, Robert; stepchildren, John Sanks, Margie Russell, Kathy (Frank) Bailey; and her sister, Martha Kelsey. Also surviving are seven grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and numerous English cousins.

Memorial services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20, in the chapel at Aspen Pointe at Hillcrest, 1201 Highland Blvd., Bozeman.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service; www.dokkennelson.com.
Funeral Home
Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service
113 South Willson Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-3184
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Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Aug. 19, 2010
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