Lavona Ferne (nee Mader) Bahnks, 92, long-time resident of Rock Island, died on April 27, 2021 in Chesterfield, MO at the home of her daughter and son-in-law following a 30-year course of Parkinson Disease and Parkinson Dementia.
Funeral services will be held Sunday, May 2 at Esterdahl Mortuary & Crematory, Ltd., 6601 38th Avenue, Moline. Visitation will begin at 10:00 prior to the 11:00 AM service at the funeral home with burial at Preemption Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Moog Center for Deaf Education, 12300 S. Forty Drive, St. Louis, MO, where her daughter is employed as a pediatric audiologist. Visit MoogCenter.org.
Lavona was born on January 1, 1929, the daughter of Merle Clifford and Hazel Ferne (nee Long) Mader. She became deaf after suffering meningitis at age 11 months. Lavona attended an elementary school for children with hearing loss, John Deere Junior High and graduated from Moline High School in 1949. She married Robert (Bob) Edward Bahnks on October 14, 1950 at Central Presbyterian Church in Rock Island, IL. Lavona worked as a florist at Bonnett Florist and The Garden Shop, Rock Island, retiring in 1987. She was a long-time member of South Park Presbyterian Church, Rock Island.
Nothing was more important to Lavona than family. She was the historian, always taking numerous photos over the years. Lavona kept those memories in many, many photo albums which were meticulously documented with names, places and dates. Sharing photos of her family, grandchildren and friends was a delight for her. Lavona was very artistic and loved sewing for her grandchildren, planning parties, cake decorating, drawing, painting, needlework, and crafts. Other activities she enjoyed were the ’49ers club of high school friends, card club, bowling leagues, working on floral arrangements for family and bus trips with friends.
Lavona and Bob made many trips to St. Louis, MO to be with their daughter and son-in-law Beth & Sheldon Holstad and grandchildren Kayla and Ryan, before moving in with them in 2009. Kayla and Ryan were their pride and joy. Grandma & grandpa never missed an opportunity to enjoy, celebrate or help them. The addition of new spouses allowed Lavona’s heart to grow even more as she immediately loved Ryan’s wife Stephanie (nee Walls) and Kayla’s husband Charles Kryzsiak.
Lavona was always kind and humble. Despite the many obstacles she faced in life, she never complained or expected special treatment. She faced adversity with courage, and immense love and support from Bob and his family: Sharon (Jim) DeBo, Chuck (Pat) Bahnks, Bill (Nancy) Bahnks, Betty (Bob) Christensen, Ben (Maggie) Bahnks and many nieces and nephews. Bob and Lavona were dedicated to each other and married for 64 years.
Lavona was very close to her aunts and uncles: Ralph & Lela Mae (nee Mader) Long, John & Arlene (nee Gould) Long, Charles & Gertrude (nee Mader) Close and cousins: Don L. Long, Steven L. Long, Charlene (nee Close) Seefeld, high school friends, and co-workers. LaNeva Marlier Birkel was her invaluable friend, mentor and interpreter throughout school, as she would ensure Lavona received the information she could not hear. They remained life-long friends. Sandra Williamson was equally supportive and a dear friend from work. Harlan and Virginia Holstad (parents of Sheldon) hosted many family gatherings and always included Bob & Lavona so all could be together; and, in later years, still made Lavona smile with FaceTime calls.
Daughter & son-in law: Beth A. (Sheldon G.) Holstad Chesterfield, MO
Grandchildren: Kayla L. (Charles) Kryzsiak Paramus, NJ
Ryan M. (Stephanie M.) Holstad Baldwin Harbor, NY
Lavona was preceded in death by her parents and husband.
The family would like to personally thank everyone who remained in touch, sent cards, visited and cared for Lavona. Particularly the caregivers from RN Services who provided companionship, love and support, especially, Sue DeBellis of St. Louis, MO who cared for and loved Lavona for 11 years. Suzie Everingham, Chaplain, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Manchester, MO also provided invaluable support to the family.
Online condolences may be left for her family by visiting the tribute wall.
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