THE FORTY YEAR BREAK
Forty years is a long time between “going steady” and getting married. The story of how that happened to Banky and Hugh Wilson reads like a Hollywood script. Separated after high school, the inevitable happened. Both found different interests and career paths. However, fate stepped in, and their story has a happy ending, just like in the movies.
Ruby “Banky” Godhold’s young life was sometimes difficult; but despite overwhelming obstacles, she says that her childhood was a happy time, and she always felt loved. Born in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, her family moved to Houston, Texas, but eventually returned to St. Louis. Banky remembers that while in Houston, she had her picture taken with The Cisco Kid. At age six, while visiting her family in Tunica, Mississippi, she became paralyzed for three months due to encephalitis.
Banky sometimes missed school, especially during the fifth and sixth grades. She loved the solitude of home while her family was away. During one report, she was absent 23 days! Despite this, she maintained good grades. When Banky was nine years old, her parents divorced. She and her brother returned to Tunica to live with her grandparents, aunt, and uncle. There, life was good. In high school, she met and began “going steady” with Hugh Wilson. She was a cheerleader, was active in many organizations, and voted Class Favorite by her classmates.
Following graduation, Banky enrolled in the University of Mississippi, becoming an honor student in the School of Business. She received majors in Business and Education in 1963. While at Ole Miss, Banky was a roommate with Lynda Lee Mead, who would be chosen as Miss America.
Banky returned to Tunica and taught school for several years. She married a local farmer, and they would have two sons, Sterling and Bryan. Banky became a stay- at- home mom. She was a Cub Scout den mother, played guitar in a band, and eventually started and managed the Hollywood Café that she and her husband owned. After her children were grown, Banky divorced and moved to Memphis for six years. She returned to Tunica so that she could have a horse and animals she loved. She worked as an Outreach Aftercare Counselor with Region Mental Health which included weekly visits to the county jail to counsel inmates.
Hugh Wilson is a native of Tunica, Mississippi and has one sister. During the 1940’s and 50’s, Hugh worked in the Blue and White Café which his parents owned. According to Hugh, “I was well known as a ‘short order cook,’ and my famous double cheeseburger, ‘the Hugh Jr. Special.’ ”
In high school, Hugh was active in all sports, played trombone in the band, was class vice-president, and was a Senior Honor Student. As President of the 4-H Club, Hugh took great pride in owning and showing the Grand Champion Steer at the Mid-South Exposition in Memphis!
Following graduation from high school, Hugh entered Mississippi State University where he elected to study Accounting. He was actively involved in several organizations including the Air Force ROTC. Upon graduation in 1964, Hugh was acknowledged as a Distinguished Military Graduate which enabled him to get a regular commission in the U.S. Air Force.
Hugh’s military career is quite impressive. He served five years in the Air Force including one tour in Vietnam. He was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross for a night-time medical mission during a typhoon. He was also awarded The Air Force Commendation Medal. Fortunately, he survived a crash that destroyed his aircraft! Following active duty, Hugh served five years in the Ready Reserve, and 20 years in the Air National Guard in various leadership positions, including Commander with rank of Colonel. A specialty in the unit he served had eight KC135 refueling aircraft. At retirement, Hugh was awarded The Legion of Merit.
Hugh also had a civilian career in aviation. In 1969, he began flying for TWA, and flew all of their aircraft except the DC-9 and B-747. He retired in 2002 as an international B-767 Captain. Between his military and commercial aviation, Hugh has flown extensively all over the world!
In 2002, Hugh was living in St. Augustine, Florida, and decided to make a trip to Tunica. There, he became re-united with Banky, and according to Hugh, “Long story short, we realized we still loved each other and soon got married. We tell everyone that we just took a 40 year break.”
Continuing to live in Tunica, Banky and Hugh enjoyed retirement. As members of the Episcopal Church, both served on the Vestry, and Hugh as president of the Rotary Club. They heard about Kirby Pines from the Dazeys, whom they met at a luncheon. After one visit to Kirby, they returned for a second visit and put down a deposit. They moved to Kirby in 2021.
Banky is limited in physical activity but enjoys meeting with the Needle Art Group. Hugh is involved with the Ball Room Dancing Group, the Photo Club, and the Theater Group. He has also been Master of Ceremonies in two Kirby entertainment venues.
“Since moving to Kirby Pines,” both agree, “we have met many wonderful people and made many new friends.” Banky recalls that while in Rehab, she had a birthday and received over 100 cards! Both are appreciative of the health care benefits, and declare, “Moving to Kirby was a ‘Godsend’! ”
Written by Joan Dodson, Resident of Kirby Pines.