AIIAS expresses heartfelt condolences to the family of the former AIIAS Junior Academy (now AIIAS Academy) principal, Donald Ray Bankhead, who passed to his rest on May 31, 2020 in Hendersonville, North Carolina while surrounded by his beloved family.
Donald was born on April 10, 1935, to Oscar and Gladys Bankhead in Yokum, Texas—the youngest of five siblings. He was an ordained minister with a rich background in mission work. He earned a Doctor of Education and held numerous positions: secondary school principal; publishing house foreman; vice president of Spicer Memorial College, board chair for Adventist Health Care in India, and president of Sri Lanka Mission. After retiring, he embarked on yet another career at Advent Health in Hendersonville, North Carolina, where he worked as a chaplain for six years.
Donald’s passion for teaching brought him and his wife to serve at AIIAS in 2011, where he taught classes in the Education department of the Graduate School. He was asked to serve as the AIIAS Junior Academy administrator in October 2011. While in leadership there he was instrumental in helping the academy obtain accreditation from the Philippine government.
“He is a man of vision. He built a school extension model to accommodate higher classes and he got approval from the Department of Education (2012-13) to run the program. With his elderly figure, our meetings were blessed with wisdom and clear direction. He also was a man of few words, but strong! He made sure things went well with the academy, ” reminisced Ranjith Kingston, a teacher at the AIIAS Academy and a former colleague from Spicer Memorial College in Pune, India. “During his stay in AIIAS, he socialized with everyone without any difference... Pastor Bankhead will be remembered for his simplicity, generosity, integrity, and love for God and man.”
After serving at AIIAS, Donald returned to Advent Health Hendersonville as a volunteer chaplain to complete his years of service and later responded to a call in Jasper, Georgia, to serve as a pastor for two additional years.
“Don was a great man to work with,” remembers Trevlynn Oberholster, director for human resources at AIIAS. “He was a gentleman with a heart for God. He went the third mile to help his students and colleagues and always looked on the positive side of things. His family was very important to him, and he enjoyed keeping up with them.”
A talented and hardworking man, Donald was a firm believer in the text found in Colossians 3:23 which states, “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all you might, as unto the Lord”. He was passionate about many things, but at the top of his list was introducing people to his Best Friend, Jesus. He excelled as a husband, father, and friend.
Donald is survived by his wife, Marjorie; sons, Kent (Sue), Mickey (Cindy), and Richard (Marci); daughter Michelle (Paul); 7 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.
Donald’s funeral is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at the Hendersonville SDA Church located at 2301 Asheville Hwy, Hendersonville, NC 28791. It is planned to be streamed live at Hendersonvilleadventist.org. (Manila time: 10:00 p.m., June 3)
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that friends consider donating to Don Bankhead Memorial India Mission Fund at the Hendersonville SDA Church, at the address listed above. Contributions will go to Donald and Marjorie’s beloved Southern Asia Division for mission outreach.