After 96 years of a life filled with art, antiques, singing, flowers, family, and friends, Dorothy May Banning died peacefully after a long illness on Monday, September 5, at her home north of Economy. Dorothy was known to many as Dingle, a family nickname from her youth.
Dorothy was born in Wayne County on April 7, 1926, to Edwin Earl and Hallie May (Myers) Shawhan and spent her early years north of Richmond, near Chester, before the family moved to Centerville where Dorothy attended school, graduating in 1944.
While in high school, Dorothy was a member of a singing trio named the Skylarks, which featured Dorothy, two other female voices, and a pianist. The Skylarks sang at churches, school functions, and civic activities and were even invited to tour with a traveling big band but declined the offer. Dorothy’s father recorded the trio on his recording equipment. Recordings of the session survive to this day. In her adult life, Dorothy attended the Economy United Methodist Church where she enjoyed singing in the choir.
Near the end of WWII, a co-worker played matchmaker and introduced her brother-in-law – via a photograph – to Dorothy. Paul Francis Banning of Economy, who was serving with the US Navy in the Pacific theatre, returned to Indiana in January 1946 and begin his courtship of Dorothy. The two were married in September 1947.
After three decades of being a homemaker and raising four children, Dorothy enrolled in art classes at IU East in Richmond. Under the tutelage of Thomas Thomas, Dorothy blossomed into an accomplished artist, winning many awards with her skills in oils, pastels, and etching. Many have seen her works on display at the Richmond Art Museum, Reid Hospital, Centerville Public Library, and in private collections. A recurring subject in her art was the family farm near Economy.
Dorothy and her husband traveled throughout the eastern United States searching for primitive antiques to sell at her store, Dorothy’s Art and Antiques, located on the Promenade in downtown Richmond. The couple often traveled in their Airstream, which included trips to the western states.
After the death of Paul in 1999, Dorothy again picked up the palette and brush. She often traveled around Indiana with other artists for weekend paint-outs. When her health began to decline, Dorothy transitioned from the canvas to her flowers at her home on the farm. Even as age and health took their toll, Dorothy continued to find a purpose to her life by tending to her flowers. Only in her final three weeks of life did the flowers lose their gardener’s attention.
Dorothy is survived by her four children – Ken (Jill) Banning of Economy, Paula (Dan) Hollenberg of Economy, Steve Banning of Hagerstown, and Peggy (Mark) Wasicsko of Economy, seven grandchildren (Mike, Jen, Abbey, Mitch, Hayley, Pete, Jess), nine great-grandchildren (with another three on-the-way), two great-great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. It is of interest to note that three of Dorothy’s four children live next door to her.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband Paul, sister Betty (Clayton) Sparks, sister Mary Lou (Wayne) Hines, brother Jim (Juanita) Shawhan, brother-in-law John (Donamae) Banning, sister-in-law Maribel (Phil) Barnard.
Dorothy was buried in the Economy Cemetery next to her husband. Donations to honor Dorothy’s life can be made to the Economy United Methodist Church, PO Box 146, Economy, IN 47339.