Vera Lois Thornton Banks

PORTAGE – Vera Lois Thornton Banks, 98, passed away with family by her side at Divine Savior Healthcare in Portage on Friday, April 7, 2017, after a brief illness.

Vera was born on May 12, 1918, the daughter of Merlin and Verda Conger Jones. Her mother passed away 9 days after giving birth to Vera and her father was in the military service, so Vera was adopted by cousins, George and Lois Hume. She graduated from Endeavor Academy at age 17 with high honors and then attended Stevens Point College, graduating as a 4-year honor student. Vera then taught school in Buffalo Township. She married Charles Thornton on March 31, 1940. She was a member of the Moundville Methodist Church and a life member of the Eastern Star. In Vera’s early married life, she sold real estate for the Morgan Agency in West Covina, CA. She was a member of the Sherman Oaks California Woman’s Club. Vera ran many restaurants including The White Diner, The Hilton in Endeavor, and The Hut in Nevada, IA, The Wauona Café, The Portage Hotel and The Oneida Hotel in Portage. Vera was a very good cook and made numerous pies daily at each restaurant she owned and operated. She was also a social worker for Columbia County, visiting families in need with their meal planning. Vera’s favorite pastime was watching basketball and NASCAR races on TV. She also enjoyed sewing, playing cards, Bingo and games on her IPad. She had a great memory right to the end of her life. Friends and family alike who had questions on almost anything related to a specific date, time or occasion, would say, “Ask Vera; she never forgets anything.” Vera’s husband, Charles, passed away on May 10, 1968. Twenty-four years later, she married Alvin Banks on June 4, 1992, and he passed away from cancer a year later.

She is survived by her children, George (Margie) Thornton of Portage, Frank (Chris) Thornton of LaCrosse, Elsie (Jerry) Brown of Portage, Judy (Bob) Steffenhagen of Queen Creek, AZ; brother, Ken Jones of Texas; sister-in-law, Cora Jones of Florida; grandchildren, Kimberly Messer and Jackie (Brandon) Ashbrook, Michael Thornton (Amy), Charles “Matthew” Thornton (Stephanie), Mark (Travis McHale) Thornton, John Cimaroli (Dawn), Jeffrey Brown (Donna), Brandon Brown (Shannon), Brad Brown (Colleen Ott), Brent Steffenhagen; great-grandchildren, Calvin Thornton, Ben Thornton, Jacob Thornton, Meghan Messer, Michael Messer, Justin Cimaroli (Chantel), Matthew Cimaroli, Zachary Cimaroli, Jessica Brown, Aerial Brown Phillips (Colton), Aaron Brown, Braeden Brown, Mckenzie Brown, Hunter Brown, Emma Ashbrook, Garrett Ashbrook, Gracie Ashbrook, Rylee Ott, Cameron Ott and great-great-granddaughter, Sophia Cimaroli. She was preceded in death by her husbands, Charles Thornton and Alvin Banks; birth mother, Verda Conger Jones; father, Merlin Jones; step-mother, Gertrude Jones; adopted parents, George and Lois Hume; infant daughters, Lois and Helen Thornton; brother, Keith Jones; sister-in-law, Marge Jones; grandson, Jeffrey Steffenhagen and Kevin Thornton; 7 brothers-in-law; 4 sisters-in-law; other nieces, nephews and  many friends.

Funeral services will be held at Moundville United Methodist Church, W5501 County Road O, Endeavor, at 12:00 noon on Thursday, April 13, 2017, with Rev. Susan Oeffler officiating. Burial will be at Moundville Cemetery following the service. Visitation will be at the church from 10:30 a.m. until the time of service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Moundville United Methodist Church.

Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.

We miss you already, Mom and Grandma. After almost 99 years, you have earned a rest. We love you.


For information please call 608 742-2126 (Portage, WI) or 608 635-2763 (Poynette, WI)