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Mary E. Banks

MARY E. BANKS, 89, OF POTTSTOWN Mary E. Banks, 89, of Pottstown, PA, passed on Sunday, January 6, 2013. She was one of three children born to the late Samuel and Mary (Miller) Williams on December 14, 1923 in Reading, PA. Mary grew up and attended school in Reading. After graduating from Reading Area Senior High School on June 13, 1941, she attended and graduated from Pottstown Business School. She later attended Montgomery County Community College and Ursinus College. She was certified as a Nurse's Aide at The Memorial Hospital of Pottstown, December 27, 1951. Mary was also certified in public speaking, economics, typing and shorthand at the Wyomissing Polytechnic Institute, 1956 to 1958. Mary believed in education and was always learning. She married Joseph Francis Banks of Pottstown on June 28, 1941. On January 1, 1946, they purchased a home at 362 Lincoln Avenue, Pottstown. Joseph Francis Banks, known by friends as "Tootie" of just Francis, passed away on May 27, 1981. They were married 40 years. There were no children from this union and Mary never remarried. Mary continued to live in the home on Lincoln Avenue Mary and Joseph Francis joined the Second Baptist Church of Pottstown in 1941 under the leadership of Rev. Heywood Butler. They were the first couple that Rev. Butler married. Mary was very involved in the church where she served in many positions. She served as assistant advisor to BYTU, president of the usher board, the helping hand club, gospel chorus, willing workers club, civic concerns committee, the burial fund committee, the Sunday school and the garden club. She was involved in many fraternal groups. She was a Charter member of Keystone Chapter No. 87, Deborah Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star, serving as Worthy Matron and secretary. Mary was appointed District Lecturer for the 4th O.E.S. She was a District Past Member of Household of Ruth in Reading, PA, The Heroines of Jericho Chapter No. 31 Philadelphia, and a member of Cyrenes Court No. 32, Norristown, PA. Mary was employed as the first African-American secretary-bookkeeper of the Pottstown YWCA. She served in the capacity of Director of Tenant Relations, Montgomery County Housing Authority. She later was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, Norristown as supervisor of social services and income maintenance where she retired. She served on the board of directors of Eagleville Hospital and the first African-American board member of the Children's Aid Society, Norristown, PA. She was elected two terms as board president. Mary served over 10 years as a foster grandparent in Pottstown School District. She was inducted into the Chapel of Four Chaplains for community service. Mary cheerfully served on the advisory board of the Ricketts Community Center, the Neighborhood Clean Block Committee, Interfaith Community Development Corporation, and Pottstown Community Coordinating Committee and was the secretary for Church Women United of Pottstown. She was the recipient of numerous community awards over the years for her community service. She served on the Board of Directors Pottstown Girl Scout Council, organized the first African-American Girl Scout Troop in Pottstown. She organized the first interracial Girl Scout Troup in Penn Village Housing Authority. She was a member of the board of directors of the Interfaith Community Corporation of Pottstown. Mary served as a tutor in the YWCA literacy program and was a member of AARP, Pottstown Area Senior Citizens (PASC), and Golden Age. She was a member of AFSCME Union Retirees Chapter No. 13 and was the first African-American member of the Pottstown Historical Society. Mary was honored by the Keystone Chapter No. 87, Deborah Grand Chapter, O.E.S. on April 7, 2001 for being a Charter member; she served as a Worthy Matron, Secretary, Historian and other positions. Mary leaves to cherish fond memories, three nieces, Deborah Walker-Bey, Norman Jean Grinnage and Tecia Grinnage, all of Philadelphia; one great nephew, Paul Walker of Philadelphia; one great great nephew, Paul Xavier Walker; two great nieces, Asia Bey and India Bey, both of Philadelphia; two great great nieces, Alexis Walker and Naomi Edwards, both of Philadelphia; two cousins, Robert Miller of Worten, MD, and Rita Travaras; two Goddaughters, Patrice Cole and Anette Farmer, both of Pottstown; two Godsons, Joseph Miller of Ohio and Edward Bailey of Mableton, GA, and far too many friends to list. In addition to her husband and parents, she is predeceased by a sister, Agnes; brother, James, and cousin, Dorothy Jenkins. Mary's favorite Bible verse was John 11:17-26 and hymn "His Grace and Mercy." Mary's Motto: "Try to Make a Difference" and she certainly did. Service will be held at 2 p.m., Monday, January 21, 2013 at Second Baptist Church, Adams and Jefferson Avenues, Pottstown. A viewing will be held from 1 - 2 p.m. prior to the service. Interment will be in the Second Baptist Church Cemetery, Douglassville, PA. Uplifting Life Services are being arranged by the DeBaptiste Funeral Homes, Inc. of West Chester and Bryn Mawr. Visit www.DeBaptiste.com for information and to send condolences ~ 610-696-4812.

Published in The Mercury on Jan. 16, 2013
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