September 14, 1929 – October 17, 2019
September 14, 1926 - October 17, 2019
Charlene was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandma, and friend. She was generous with her time, support, and advice to anyone who needed it. There was always room at her table for people with nowhere to go for the holidays. She was also very independent, making her own decisions and turning her goals into reality through her own persistence and hard work.
Charlene was born in Toledo Oregon and grew up on the railroads, as her father was a railway foreman. The family lived all over Oregon while he was helping build the railways. She graduated high school in Scio, Oregon, where the family lived on a farm that had supported them through the Depression. She loved all animals, and “never met a stray she didn’t bring home.”
She attended business school rather than college so she could work to help support her family when her father suffered a long-term illness. She was a volunteer at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where she loved to cuddle and play with the children whose parents could not be with them. In later years she took accounting classes and worked for several high tech and manufacturing firms for many years past a normal retirement age. Once retired, she combined her office skills with her love of animals and nature to volunteer with Tualatin Riverkeepers.
On June 25, 1959, Charlene married Paul Bankston. They spent their early years in Clackamas on a farm, in a house they built together, largely with their own hands. They later moved to Tigard, where they eventually bought another farm and raised cattle. Daughters Stephanie, Carla and Karen were delighted to have their own ponies, as well as bunnies, a few dogs, and a never-ending supply of cats, thanks to their mom’s kind heart. She supported their many activities from riding lessons and pony carts when they were young, through music, sports, Girl Scouts, 4-H, and travel opportunities. She was always up for having friends over, or transporting a carful of giggling girls to movies or pizza. She strongly supported and encouraged all her children and grandchildren in reaching their various goals in life.
Charlene’s many interests included reading, crossword puzzles, golf, forensics in tv programs, singing (for which she won a prize in school), sewing, quilting, knitting, current events, painting ceramics (and won another prize), and trying new restaurants with family and friends. She traveled to states as far away as Virginia, and to Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, and Australia. She loved gardening and growing Brandywine tomatoes, and flowers such as tulips and zinnias. She planted a special deep red rose called Veteran’s Honor in memory of Paul after his passing. She owned several well-loved Bernese Mt. Dogs over the years and was a member of the local breed club. She became interested in conservation due to her love for the land and wild creatures that surrounded her home. She arranged for a portion of her land to go into a conservation easement to protect it in perpetuity. She was probably best known for her cooking. She loved having company for meals, especially for holidays. Her delicious dinner rolls were always in high demand, and the recipe is passed down to the next generations. Also legendary is the family recipe for Cowboy cookies (chocolate chip with oatmeal), which seldom lasted more than a few days!
Charlene was preceded in death by her parents Delmer and Martha, her husband Paul, her sister Irene and husband Stan and their son Gerald. She is survived by her nieces Susan and Sharon, nephew Dan, daughters Carla and Karen and husband George, her step-daughter Stephanie, her grandchildren Sarah, Nikolas, Ariana and husband Garrett, and Jacob.
A celebration of life will be held for Charlene on Saturday October 26th at 1pm at her home. All who knew her are welcome. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Tualatin Riverkeepers.
- Celebration of Life Saturday, October 26, 2019