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Welcome to the memorial page for

Susan Kay Harris Banis

November 3, 1952 ~ June 14, 2015 (age 62) 62 Years Old

Susan Kay Banis, 62, passed away Sunday, June 14, 2015, in Great Falls, MT after a brief illness. Funeral services will be held June 20, 2015, at 12:00 p.m. at the United Church of Christ in Fairfield, MT. Her ashes will be interred at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Fairfield following the service.

Sue was born November 3, 1952 in Great Falls, MT. She attended Fairfield Grade School and Fairfield High School, graduating in 1970. At the University of Montana, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in sociology and library science. She was also a member of Delta Gamma Fraternity.

Sue’s rich creative talents, engaging personality and genuine concern for people were appreciated in a number of fields. She began her career as a graphic artist in Missoula working at the Bike Centennial, and later at several media outlets including Lee Newspapers and the Missoula Messenger. She then took a position as school librarian in Hamilton and taught library science at UM, after which she held a variety of roles at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Upon the death of her parents, Sue and her family moved back to Fairfield, where she was appointed Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator for Teton County. Before retiring, Sue served as school secretary at Greenfield School where she was the go-to person. Some of her adoring students waited eagerly each day to catch “the blue bus,” as she provided transportation to school in her van.

On August 12, 1983, Sue went against her father’s lifelong advice to “Stay away from those Choteau boys” and married LeRoy Banis, her love for thirty-two years. They made their first home in Lolo, MT. During their early life together, they enjoyed road trip adventures with Sue accompanying LeRoy on his big rig during the summers, sometimes serving as relief driver. Their first child, Brittany Lynne, was born on January 13, 1987, followed by Chelsea Nicole on December 19, 1990. 6’4” Chelsea was her “littlest angel,” whom her proud mother supported tirelessly throughout her successful basketball and educational career. Brittany was her jewel, with Sue always polishing and helping her to shine in life. She loved decorating her home and made it an oasis for friends, full of good cheer, laughter and delicious cooking. There was always room at her Christmas table, her favorite holiday.

Active in community affairs, Sue helped found the Fairfield Community Choir and served as Co-Chair of the annual Swim Day festivities. Her musical talents, both vocal and piano, were magical, and she generously shared them, being sought after for funerals, weddings and all types of civic and social activities. She managed the music program at the Fairfield United Church of Christ for many years, directing the choir, singing solos and playing the piano for services, often referred to as “music from heaven.” She also served on the church governing board, on many committees, and as secretary for the Montana UCC Conference, as well as Chair of the Conference Ministry Committee.

Sue cherished her Montana roots. She had a deep love of “the land” and was proud of bucking hay in the fields with her father as a youngster. She couldn’t wait to muck out the stall of her first horse and was lucky to heal the broken back that resulted from getting bucked off. A special bond with all animals made sure that any stray fortunate enough to find her doorstep would find a home. The color of her thumb was obvious in the flourishing blooms and greenery at her house, both inside and out. She added beauty to everything she touched; even the external envelope of a greeting card never arrived at its destination without lovely added decoration by Sue’s hand. Her artistry was revealed in any medium she explored, from excellent wood carvings and stained glass creations, to the sun reflecting through the artful placement of her multi-hued collection of carnival glass.

Sue’s life reflected her depth of character. Her iron will and unerring moral compass resulted in her motto: “Do the right thing.” Her kindness, compassion, humility and humor made her a light in the lives of all who knew her, a cherished friend. She was always ready to respond to a need whether it be for a warm casserole or a warm sentiment expressed in what she called “heart words,” inspired writings that seemed to hit just the right note. Sue lived her faith through her love of people and life of selfless service. Her unique grace is irreplaceable.

Sue was preceded in death by her parents, Edna Mae “Eddie” and Frank H. Harris of Fairfield, MT. She is survived by her husband LeRoy Banis, daughters Brittany Banis and Chelsea Banis, of Fairfield, and a sister, Donna Harris, of Signal Hill, California.

Sue will be missed and held dear in the loving hearts of her family, furries, friends and community.

Memorial donation suggestions include Bright Eyes Animal Shelter in Choteau and the Fairfield United Church of Christ.

 Service Information

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