Yvonne Elizabeth Southall Bankston was all about family. She died peacefully on June 26, with loving family members by her side – just six months shy of her 90th birthday. She and her husband Henry Bankston enjoyed 59 years of marriage before his death in 2015. They were blessed with three children. While their daughter Patrice Michelle died from leukemia at three-years-old, their two sons — Michael and Reginald — continue their commitment to family with their children and grandchildren.
As the last surviving sibling of which there were six, Yvonne, known to family and friends as Bonnie, was the anchor for all sides of her and their families. While she was looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday in December, a celebration of her life is scheduled for July 6 at noon at Murray Brothers Funeral Home, 1199 Utoy Springs Road, Atlanta. The family requests that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to the Leukemia Research Foundation, 191 Waukegan Road, Suite 105, Northfield, IL 60093-2744 or online, www.allbloodcancers.org/donate. A viewing is scheduled from noon to 6 pm at Murray Brothers on Monday.
Yvonne was born in East Liverpool, Ohio, to parents William J. Southall and Irene Carey Southall on Dec. 26, 1931. She was the fifth child among her six brothers and sisters. They were Lucile Curtis, Charles Southall, Daniel Southall, Burnie (Bud) Southall, and Dolores Wright.
After graduating from East Liverpool High School, Yvonne went to business school where she became an excellent typist and mastered shorthand. After completing business school, she came to Atlanta, Georgia to work with her relatives who owned and published the Atlanta Daily World newspaper. Her Aunt, Emmeline Southall Scott, was the mother of ADW Founder W.A. Scott, II.
She enrolled in Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University), where she taught typing in the Business Department while taking courses in business. She was chosen to be a fraternity queen at Clark and participated in the home-coming ceremonies. After graduating from Clark College, she worked as Secretary to the President at Atlanta University and the Georgia State Department of Labor.
Yvonne met her husband-to-be while living in Atlanta. They married at Clark College and then moved to Fort Meade, MD, where Henry was stationed as he completed his career in the Armed Forces. After he completed his services at Fort Meade, they returned to Atlanta where their three children were born.
Son Michael Sheldon has a daughter and Son Reginald Brent has two sons. Granddaughter Diamond and Grandsons Brent and Julian were additions to the family who brought much happiness to all the Bankstons.
Yvonne was also known for her community involvement and her interest in politics. She worked to help elect Maynard Jackson as Atlanta’s first African-American mayor, She also was part of the “Peanut Brigade” that helped elect Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Presidency in 1976.
In 1978, she was the chairperson of the Mental Health Association Membership Committee for Fulton County. During that same year she was appointed to the National Membership Committee of the Mental Health Association. This committee was focused on improving the care and treatment for the mentally ill.
In other community activities, she served as chairperson for the Board of Zoning Adjustment, City of Atlanta; Study Group Leader for Leadership Atlanta; U.S Conference of Mayors Steering Committee; Member of fundraising project, Atlanta Zoological Association; legislative liaison task force member for the Chamber of Commerce, City of Atlanta. She also was a faithful member of Radcliffe Presbyterian Church.
Yvonne had an active social life as well. She belonged to the Etucs Bridge Club and the Smart Set Social Club. She had many friends and kept in contact with them by telephone when she became less active during her later years. She brought Southall, Bankston and Scott family members together for regular reunion-style celebrations. Her well-lived life will be remembered and cherished by her two sons Michael Sheldon and Reginald Brent (Angelia); three beautiful grandchildren, Reginald Brent II (Shaun), Julian Nicholas; three great grandchildren Kyle Alexander, Karter Payton, and Kali Jai and three step grandchildren Stephen, Alexis and Ajia, step-great grandchildren Jaxson, Jace and a host of nieces and nephews, cousins, and extended family.
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