Born: Jun 16, 1917
Died: Sep 17, 2016
Venus was born in Doniphan, Nebraska, on June 16, 1917, the only child of Edgar Bankson and Emma Valentine Jacobs Potts. Venus’ family were pioneers in Nebraska and she loved hearing her Grandmother Cora tell her stories of Nebraska’s early days. During her high school years Venus excelled in academics, music, oration, dramatics and sports, receiving many awards. Before graduating from St. Paul High School in 1935, Venus won a statewide contest naming her one of Nebraska’s “Best Young Citizens.” She worked to put herself through college, attending Nebraska Wesleyan University and the University of Nebraska. She received a master’s degree in speech pathology from St. Louis University and pursued a doctorate at the University of Washington. In 1996, both Venus and her husband, Francis, received honorary doctorates from Montana State University. Over her long career she taught deaf children, served as the coordinator of the Montana Cleft Palate Team and was internationally known in her field for her ground-breaking studies in cleft palate.
In 1939, Venus married Herbert M. Cecil; they had three children; Kathleen, Kedric and Elizabeth. In 1967, Venus married longtime Blaine County legislator, Francis Bardanouve, and they made their home in Harlem on the Bardanouve Ranch. During her years in Harlem, Venus was instrumental in organizing the Galilean Coffee House and Book Store. She also wrote and taught Bible studies for a variety of age groups in Harlem and founded the nonpartisan weekly Legislative Wives’ Bible Studies in Helena, which is ongoing today. After retiring from professional life, Venus taught herself to use the computer and became a successful freelance Christian writer. Over the next 20 years, she wrote for many different books and magazines, publishing over 900 articles, stories and Bible studies. In 2001, she published a collection of her work in Journeys of the Heart.
Venus was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Francis. She is survived by her children, Kathie (Guy) Barnes of Fountain Valley, Calif; Kedric Cecil of Billings; Libby (Reuben) Kuntz of Harlem; nine grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; and 6 great-great grandchildren. Memorials may be sent to the Harlem Ambulance, in gratitude for the many times they, in Venus' own words, "saved her life."