ODESSA Naoma Catherine Bankhead, age 98, passed from this life on Sunday, June 24, 2012. She was born March 4, 1914 in Oglesby, Texas to Samuel Lafayette and Mary Emma Manning Rogers.
On December 15, 1932 she married George McRennel Bankhead. The couple struggled through the depression years and survived by depending upon their faith and by keeping a strong work ethic in place.
They moved to Odessa in June of 1940. From the beginning of this union, Naoma was a fulltime homemaker, faithfully serving the growing family. Rennel was drafted into the United States Army in the spring of 1944 and Naoma was briefly alone with the care of four young children. Following the war’s end, the family continued living in Odessa and Naoma continued her strenuous and joyful task of keeping the home. “Mother’s Day Out” was unheard of for Naoma. Going out to eat meant preparing a box full of goodies for a picnic in the park or dinner on the ground with folks from church. With four children in tow weekly trips were made to the washateria where the wringer type machines were used. She stood on her feet from dawn to dusk ironing dozens of pieces of clothing. The treadle sewing machine must have thousands of miles on it. A band-aid, an aspirin, Mentholatum and ST-37 were treatments for most of her children’s illnesses. Visits to the doctor were extremely rare. Being allowed to sleep with their mother was the best medicine her little ones received. Hospitality abounded in the Bankhead household. Friends of the children were always welcome. There was lots of company with both relatives, and friends. Naoma spread many a feast for hungry guests. With a servant’s heart and never complaining nor speaking ill of others, she operated under the motto, “I know something good about you.” Her happy countenance manifested itself through the laughter she injected into all conversations.
Upon becoming a grandmother, Naoma chose to be called “Nanee,” the name her younger sister had used, being unable to pronounce Naoma. The name has special meaning to her many grandchildren through three generations.
As she advanced in age Naoma was an avid reader, always studying and learning. She got her driver’s license at age 65 and never shied away from experiencing new adventures. She even baited her own fishing hook. She did not care much for television, preferring puzzles and word games; Scrabble - was her specialty. She was feisty. At age 96 she fought off two intruders in her house, thus earning a new title, “Granny Rambo.”
Naoma was mentally acute to the end. Maintaining her health required few prescriptions. Her doctor stated that “…she is my Poster Child for growing old.”
Naoma was preceded in death by her parents, one sister, Gladys Rogers, two brothers, Dee Rogers and Wylie Rogers, her husband of 61 years and a son, Robert A. Bankhead. Other deaths include grandchildren Connie Jennings and Tommy Ellison and a great grandson, Kristopher Higdon.
Survivors include a sister, Vertice Bankhead of Odessa; son, Ronald W. Bankhead of Robert Lee, Texas; two daughters, Velda R. Duzan and husband, Wayne of Odessa and Norma R. Jennings and husband, Dewayne of Jal, New Mexico. She also leaves behind 11 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren.
Naoma was a long-time member of Sherwood Church of Christ. Serving God was the Number One Priority in her life. Her family was her pride and joy, and she enjoyed the fellowship of many friends. All will greatly miss the laughing, genuine smile and servant heart of this great lady. She taught us how to live and she taught us how to die.
No formal visitation is scheduled, though viewing will be available at Hubbard Kelly Funeral Home on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. A private family graveside service at Sunset Memorial Gardens will be at 12:00 noon on Thursday, June 28, 2012. Friends and family are invited to a memorial service at Sherwood Church of Christ, 4900 North Dixie, at 3:00 PM Thursday, June 28, 2012.
Memorial donations may be made to Odessa Christian School.
Services entrusted to Hubbard-Kelly Funeral Home.