Mildred Banister Ward was born November 21, 1923, in Emory, Texas, to Emmett Wesley Pickens, Sr., and Katta Urna Russell Pickens. One of her favorite memories as a child was when her mother and dad would invite people over after church on Sundays to socialize and play musical instruments and sing. Mildred's mother passed away when she was 9 years old after being in and out of the hospital for 2 years, This left her dad who she called Papa alone to take care of her and her other siblings.
Mildred lived in Forney, Texas, and attended schools there. When she was 16 years old, she met and fell in love with Loyd Banister. They married at the old courthouse in downtown Dallas on May 25, 1940. He always told her she was the best looking girl he had ever seen, and she said he was the most handsome boy she had ever seen.
A couple they had met invited them to church one Sunday. Mildred said that planted a seed and was when they began to think about a relationship with Jesus. In 1944 Loyd was called into the Army and fought in France in World War II. God spoke to him while he was fighting on the front line, and he was saved by grace right then and there. When Loyd came back from the War, he and Mildred joined Fair Park Baptist Church. They were both baptized by their pastor Steve Philpot. However, later on, Mildred was listening on the radio to Rev. J. C. Hibbard from the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Dallas and realized she had a problem with forgiveness toward others in her life. At that point she came to see that she had not really been saved before. She was then rebaptized by Bro. Philpot. After that, Mildred taught childrens' Sunday School classes there at Fair Park.
The Banisters moved to the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas in 1949 and their only child Dana was born there. They joined Mount Calvary Baptist Church where they, along with Zeb and Eunice Stone, alternated in teaching the young married couples class. Mildred was a stay-at-home mom with Dana for about 12 years. After that she worked for awhile at Sears catalog order, and then for 10 years at Sears Commercial Sales Division. After Loyd retired from LTV, she stayed home with him to help keep their grandson Chris while Dana worked. That little boy was the joy of their lives, and he was crazy about his Nanny and Poppie.
In 1984 Loyd went to be with the Lord after a short battle with leukemia after 44 wonderful years with Mildred. A few years later Mildred married Irby Ward. She and Irby enjoyed their marriage, eating out with friends, and taking trips to Branson with other church members at Bethel Baptist Church. After 10 years of marriage, Irby passed away with cancer in 1999.
The center of Mildred's life has been her family. She and Loyd had invited a son into their lives when Dana married Jimmy Jasper in 1968. She was just as excited when her grandson Chris married Snow Nguyen in 2012. Then they made her a great grandmother when God blessed them with three precious little girls, Michaela, Madison and Shiloh. She loved them with all of her heart and always called them "my babies." She was a woman of God and a woman devoted to those she loved.. We are all so grateful to have had her in our lives. We will miss her passionately until we see her again in heaven.