Benita “Bennie” Selma Ravanes Tankersley

Benita Selma Ravanes Tankersley, 98, was called home by our Lord on February 2, 2020 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital with her children by her bedside.

She was born on March 21, 1921 in Tunkop, Minglanilla, Cebu, Philippines and was the daughter of Eusebia Sason Ravanes and Patricia Selma.

Bennie graduated from Cebu City High School in 1941 before attending the Southern Island Hospital School of Nursing in Cebu City. Due to the Japanese bombings during WWII, the students were disbanded and sent home while the school was used as a military base by the Japanese. Bennie stayed and worked at a civilian hospital but then left the city to escape the Japanese.

She later used her training to work at a Philippine military hospital and then an American military base where she was to meet her husband, Charles W. Tankersley, Jr.

After the war, Bennie traveled to Manilla and completed her nurses training at North Central Hospital School of Nursing in 1949. Charles was sent back to the states in 1945 but he returned in 1949 and they were married.

They left the Philippines living shortly in Neosho, Missouri before settling in Lawrence, Kansas where they raised five children. They later divorced in 1974.

Bennie began working at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in May of 1951 and retired on April 3, 1987 after 35 years. She worked in nearly every department and was a floor supervisor for many years although she enjoyed bedside nursing more. She was the last of the nurses who wore the traditional winged nurse’s cap.

After retiring, Bennie enjoyed traveling, taking classes at the Senior Center, painting and gardening. Being an avid KU Jayhawk basketball fan, she watched every game, knew every player and coach and was their biggest fan.

She was a devout Catholic and was a member of St. John Catholic Church since 1951 attending mass and volunteering at the church thrift store for many years.

Survivors include her children Nola Peine (Steve), Maria Hopson, Charles W. Tankersley III, Roxanna Besser (Richard Evans), Richard Tankersley (John Tatum) and sister Vitaliona S. Zafra. Several nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren also survive.

She was preceded in death by her former husband Charles, several brothers and sisters, and grandsons Jody Lee Besser and Richard Paul Besser III.

A visitation will be held from 5 – 7 p.m. Friday, February 7, 2020 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence. Mass services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, February 8th at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church with graveside services following at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Lawrence Memorial Hospital or St. Johns Catholic Church and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, Kansas 66044.

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