Monday, March 9, 2015

A Fond Farewell

On Thursday, March 5, we marked the end of an era. On that day, we celebrated the life of our dear friend Edith Banning-Josef, who’d died two days earlier.

People are often called unique, but I have never known anyone else quite like her. She certainly marched to the beat of her own drummer.

We first met her over forty years ago when she brought her two boys to church. From that point on, no one who attended our contemporary service could miss her. She sat in the back row on the aisle and ‘managed’ the service.

She was hard to miss. A tiny bird-like woman, she nearly always wore leggings and a sweatshirt. She particularly favored a hot pink one with three small fuzzy teddy bears and pink hearts. I made it over twenty years ago for a church sale. Edith bought it, and every time she wore it, she pointed it out to me to make sure I remembered.

When the church was on a schedule with Sunday school between services, the kids remained for the entire first service. Edith decided they should take the collection, and each week, she chose the kids for this job. They were delighted when she picked them. If one of our kids brought a friend, Edith often asked the friend to participate. What a marvelous way to let a child know they were welcome!

She truly had a heart for kids. She assisted in a classroom at the local elementary school for years, helped in Sunday school, and taught vacation Bible school. She had a particularly close relationship with my daughter, Kim, since she was the same age as Edith’s younger son. Edith’s nickname for Kim was ‘Snookie Cookie.’ (Where it came from, we never knew.) Before long, Kim called her the same thing. Even last Christmas when Kim visited church, they greeted each other that way.

After Kim moved to Texas, the first question Edith always asked us was, “How is Kim doing?” When talking with friends at the reception following Edith’s memorial service, I discovered she did the same with most of the kids who had grown up in the church.

All her involvement with our church was ironic because she never joined. I periodically invited her to become a member, but she always told me she had joined the church as a girl and didn’t feel the need to belong to ours, even though she attended regularly. She finally said she would join when David did. (He’d also been attending for years without becoming a member.) I suspect she said it to shut me up. When David finally joined the church about three years ago, I reminded her of her promise. Of course, she still declined.

Edith had the heart of a Deacon and performed lots of Deacon-like activities—even though we could never give her the official title. Whenever we held an event, Edith was there to help. She cared deeply about people, and always enjoyed our fellowship events. She was a guest in our home for several of these and had a great time.
For many years, she and my mother spent Friday afternoons at the church folding the bulletins for Sunday morning. They became good friends. When Mom’s senility incapacitated her, we moved her to an assisted living facility. Edith made a point to visit her at least once a week. As Mom deteriorated, we had to relocate her to a nursing home. Edith continued to visit each Saturday. We always knew she’d been there because we’d sometimes find a cookie on a paper towel with a note written on it: Vera’s. Do not eat. She often left a bunch of wild flowers in a little bottle from which she’d soaked off the label.

On the day Mom died, we took her onyx ring to Edith since we wanted her to have it. We didn’t think she should hear the news from someone else or over the phone. We told her she could wear the ring, keep it, sell it, or give it away. She said she wanted one of her granddaughters to have it.

Fortunately, we have our old church directories since very few photos exist of Edith. Her niece confirmed that Edith didn’t like to have her picture taken. She said many of the family photos show Edith with her hands over her face.

This is ironic because she always had a camera in her hand. Over the years, she must have taken thousands of pictures of events at the church—but we never saw any of them. When asked about them, she said they were all on slides and she didn’t have a projector. We offered to let her use ours, but then she couldn’t find the slides. (No surprise.)

We speculated that she might not have had film in the camera, but after she died, her boys found several rolls of undeveloped film with her cameras.

Between services, we have coffee hour on the patio in front of the entrance. One of her ‘jobs’ at the church was to ring a school bell to let everyone know it was time for the second service to begin. I guess we’ll have to find someone else to do that job now.
We will miss our friend Edith very much, but we consider ourselves so very blessed to have had her in our lives for so many years.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. She was quirky and fun and one of the most loving people I've ever known.

  2. I agree, truly heart felt tribute to one of your church family.

  3. You did a wonderful job of capturing the quirkiness of Edith. In the last few years, every time I saw Edith, she'd ask be where I'd been and tell me that she missed me. I can't think of a better Outreach person for our church than Edith. She made each of us feel special and always asked for pictures of my kids and grandkids as if they were just as important to her as they were to me.

    Laurie Jacobs

    1. She was definitely one of a kind. I still can't quite picture Sunday mornings without her.