Obituaries: Bankston, Reutzel, Gonia

Arvall Bankston, 74, worked with troubled youth

PITTSFIELD, MA—Arvall “Banks” Bankston of West Lebanon went home to be with the Lord, March 24, 2012 surrounded by family and friends at Berkshire Medical Center after a five-year battle with health issues.

He was born in Haiti, MO, November 26, 1937 to the late Edmond Bankston and Eddie Lou Cozart.

He leaves behind his loving wife, Cathy Hursa Bankston, who he married in 2000 after many years of friendship.

He left Missouri and relocated to Chicago in 1957, then moved with his family to West Lebanon. He worked for 38 years at Berkshire Farm Center for Youth in Canaan. He retired in 2002 and his compassion for troubled children extended beyond the facility.

He was called a Good Samaritan, a leader and an advocate for many. He participated with an alcohol and drug abuse program in Pittsfield, MA; transported and supported and opened his heart to help people everywhere he went.

He was predeceased by his son, Arvall Bankston, Jr. who died August 30, 2011.

Besides his wife Cathy, he is survived by: his loving daughter, Laurie Bankston-Stroud and her husband Ray Stroud of Troy; grandchildren, Shamyra Bankston Watters of NJ, Sarita Bankston of VT, Justin Bankston of CT, Ashiya Stroud of Troy, Ashley Bankston of West Lebanon and Paige Stroud of Troy. He is also survived by the mother of his grandchildren, Ashley and Justin, Bonnie Lee; brothers-in-law, Peter Hursa and his wife MaryBeth of Malden Bridge and Michael Hursa and his wife Linda of Stephentown; along with six great-grandchildren, the most recent apple of his eye was his great-grandson, Alijah Arvall Frazier, who resided part-time with his “Poppie” in West Lebanon. He is also survived by his sister, Edna Jones and her husband Joseph of St. Louis, MO, and several nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Edmond Bankston, Jr., of Chicago, IL. He was also predeceased by his loving canine pal, Asia, who left his side a few weeks ago.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 31, 2 p.m. in the Tabernacle Baptist Church, 895 West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield. Burial will follow in the Flat Brook Baptist Cemetery Route 22, Canaan.

Relatives and friends are invited to the Hall & Higgins Funeral Home, 457 State Route 43, Stephentown, Friday, March 30, 4 to 7 p.m. for visitation. Contributions in Mr. Bankston’s memory may be made to the Friends of Renal Dialysis, c/o the funeral home, P.O. Box 9, Stephentown 12168.

Calvin Reutzel, Jr., 59, electrician, brother, uncle

ALBANY—Calvin Coolidge “Sonny” Reutzel, Jr., 59, of Route 9, Hudson died Saturday, March 24, 2012.

Born in Albany, June 3, 1952, he was the son of the late Calvin Coolidge and Eleanor Mary (Gardner) Reutzel, Sr.

Mr. Reutzel worked for A. E. Rosen Electric in Albany for more than 20 years and most recently for Central Electric in Clifton Park.

He is survived by: a stepson, Michael F. Smith of Florida; two sisters, Elizabeth Talarico of Craryville and Patricia Ann Powers of Dickson, TN; two brothers, Philip A. Butler, Jr., of Greenville and Michael J. Reutzel of Hudson; an uncle, Frederick Reutzel (Laura) of Stuyvesant; a nephew, Michael Reutzel; several nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and cousins.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, March 29, 11 a.m. at the Raymond E. Bond Funeral Home, Inc., Route 9, Valatie with the Reverend Stark Jones officiating. Interment will follow in Memory’s Garden, Colonie. Relatives and friends may call Wednesday, March 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 260 Osborne Road, Loudonville 12211.

Mary Jane Gonia, 91, educator, church communicant

PITTSFIELD, MA—Mary Jane Nesbit Stauch Gonia, 91, of 140 Melbourne Road, Pittsfield, MA, formerly of West Lebanon, died peacefully Saturday evening, March 24 at home surrounded by her loving family, who were praying her way to heaven.

The family thanks Hospice Care in the Berkshires for helping them.

Born in Pittsfield, July 7, 1920, the daughter of George W. (of Pittsfield) and Jane E. Daley (of Chatham) Nesbit, she was a 1938 graduate of St. Joseph’s High School. She graduated from Our Lady of the Elms College and received her master’s degree in education from the College of St. Rose and, in her 70s, a master’s degree in theology from St. Bonaventure University.

After college, she worked as a chemist for Bayer Aspirin. Mrs. Gonia loved teaching and began her career as an educator at the New York State museum when her children were grown. She worked in both the Schenectady and Guilderland school districts for 16 years, retiring in 1980. She also tutored for many years at the Darrow School in New Lebanon. Mrs. Gonia was a passionate reader and a volunteer at the New Lebanon Library.

A devout Catholic, Mrs. Gonia was a communicant of St. Mark’s Church and formerly a spiritual leader and lector at Immaculate Conception Church in New Lebanon. Her life echoed her beliefs, which she shared sincerely with her communities, both global and local. One of her recent life highlights was meeting Fr. Roy Bourgeois (SOA) when she turned 90. She believed in the resurrection and everlasting life.

She leaves her husband, Walter J. Gonia, whom she married June 22, 1973; six children, Marilyn Stauch Lemmerman and her husband David of Media, PA, Joseph W. Stauch and his wife Karen of West Lebanon, Kathleen Stauch Millett and her husband Gary of West Lebanon, Carol Stauch Hudson and her husband Dale of So. Freeport, ME, James Stauch and his wife Catherine of Gansevoort, Jayne Stauch Bannish and her husband Dan of Longmeadow, MA; a step-daughter, Jeanine Gonia Popalis and her husband Jim of West Lebanon; a brother, Paul Nesbit and his wife Therese of Pittsfield; two sisters, Anne Nesbit of Pittsfield, Sheila Keator and her husband, George of Lenox, MA.

She is also survived by 23 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her first husband, Joseph Stauch, who died in 1966; sisters, Kathleen Nesbit and Margaret Farley; brothers, George, John, Leo and Robert Nesbit. She always considered and treated all she knew as family and her love “knew no bounds.”

Funeral services will be Friday, March 30, 2012, 9 a.m. from the Dwyer Funeral Home, 776 North Street, Pittsfield MA, with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. at St. Mark’s Church celebrated by her Capuchin friend, Fr. Jerry Schroeder.

Burial will follow in North Cemetery in Richmond, MA.  Lunch with the family will immediately follow at the Immaculate Conception Church Hall, Route 20, New Lebanon. Calling hours at the funeral home will be Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 4 to 7 p.m. with a time for sharing memories. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Dwelling Place Ministry, c/o Rev. Jerome Schroeder, OFMcap, 1611 Manitoba Avenue, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53172 or to the New Lebanon Library, 550 State Route 20, New Lebanon 12125.

“Finally, mom there was ‘room at the Inn.’”


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