Helen Banks, Seamstress, Devoted Churchwoman

Banks
Banks
Posted: January 29, 2013

IF YOU GAVE Helen Banks a needle and thread, you'd be advised to get out of her way.

She could make anything with those simple tools. Clothing, of course, including men's and women's suits, prom dresses to make a girl the belle of the ball, draperies, bedding, wedding dresses - you name it.

For a time, she designed and sewed bedding for the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store.

Helen Banks, who worked for a number of clothing manufacturers in the city - including Foster Brothers Men's Clothing, from which she retired - a devoted churchwoman and loving family matriarch, died Friday. She was 87 and lived in Cherry Hill.

Helen didn't need patterns. She sewed by sight.

She had an irrepressible joy of living. "Helen enjoyed laughing, and her smile would brighten a room," her family said. "She shared her life with those she came in constant contact with, making them feel right at home."

Helen was born in Philadelphia to Marie and Frederick Carey. She attended William Penn High School, and soon after graduating launched her career as a seamstress.

She was baptized at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, and later joined Bethany Baptist Church in Lindenwold, N.J.

She married Ernest Banks in 1953, and they moved to Cherry Hill.

Helen also enjoyed cooking, and could turn out such family favorites as fried chicken, sweet-potato pie and rice pudding, mostly prepared in the Southern style.

"Helen loved to live and lived to love, and that she did, consistently traveling to exotic vacation spots and meeting new friends with that radiant smile," her family said.

Her husband died in 2002. She is survived by two daughters, Carmella Scranton and Beverly Smith; her twin sister, Dorothy Smothers; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Services: 11 a.m. Friday at Canaan Baptist Church, 5430 Pulaski Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Ivy Hill Cemetery, Cheltenham.

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