by David Shannon
Mary Lou Banta was born and raised in Cartersville, Oklahoma. At the age of fourteen she decided to move to Florida to help her older sister. She found herself in a dilemma since the love of her life, Newell Banta, lived in Oklahoma. They decided the solution was to marry and then make the move together as husband and wife. This was the beginning of their enduring, godly marriage. Throughout their lives they became pillars in the congregation of the Lord’s church. Mary Lou served as a long-time teacher of children and an elder’s wife. She hosted guests in her home for Sunday lunch almost every week. If one was a guest of the congregation on Sunday morning, they were also a guest of Mary Lou’s for lunch. After Newell’s passing in 1996 Mary Lou decided to move to Mt Juliet, Tennessee to be more centrally located to her daughters. Most of us in MJ came to know and love this precious, intelligent, beautiful lady in 1998.
Mary Lou loved God, His Word, and His church. She read from the Bible daily. Her Bible is filled with handwritten notes. Each page has scripture references underlined and notes of past studies. This study translated into her children’s lives. Her four daughters were taught to place God as number one in their lives. She taught them to go back to God’s Word in everything and make sure they were living it. Can you imagine how different this world would be if every mother loved God’s word and instilled it into their children, as Mary Lou did in hers. She lived Deuteronomy 6. She loved her family. She served her husband for 55 years of marriage. She nurtured her children physically, spiritually, and emotionally. To this day her four daughters are wonderful Christian ladies. She was considered “the hub” of this family which is made up of four daughters, 11 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren, with two more to be born soon. All of them felt as if they could go to her for anything and that each was her favorite. Mary Lou loved to read. For her, reading was as much of a daily activity as eating. Recently when her eyesight was greatly impaired it seemed that her greatest concern was not being able to read. She was thrilled when her eyesight was restored enough to pick up a book. One of her daughters said, “Momma without a book was a really bad thing.” Mary Lou loved to sew. The buzz of a machine sounded in her house from the beginning of her marriage until last week. Each Easter she would make five matching dresses for her and her daughters. Later in life she made three of her daughter’s wedding gowns without using a pattern. In recent years she has been the primary seamstress for the Teddy Bear Ministry, sewing literally thousands of them. Mary Lou was Loved. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her church family cherished her nurturing spirit. Her Heavenly Father called her home. We rejoice for her and seek comfort for ourselves; and consider this another reason to want to go home.