Ellen Marguerite Banta (nee Fairbrother) was born November 26, 1952 in Shillong, Assam, India (now Meghalaya). She passed away peacefully with family at her side on Sunday, October 8, 2017. She was the 3rd child of missionaries, Archie and Marguerite Fairbrother. Ellen came to the United States at the age of 14 and completed high school at Huron High School in Huron, South Dakota. From there she attended and graduated twice from Dakota Bible College also in Huron.
Ellen met and married, Larry Banta, a medical student in Lincoln, Nebraska. That started an adventure that lasted almost 41 years. For the last two months of medical school they returned to the land of her birth where Larry completed his last rotation. During that time, Larry assisted with starting a hospital and Ellen started a preschool at Kulpahar Kids Home in northern India. Returning to the U.S. Larry started his residency in Akron, Ohio. The next adventure was nearly two years in Kenya assisting with development of a rural bush clinic and providing post famine relief. Though not trained medically, Ellen learned to do physical therapy working beside her husband to manage a severe polio epidemic. Together they were able to save many children and vaccinated thousands. At the end of that year she was left alone in the bush with the children after Larry was life flighted seriously ill with hepatitis. She helped nurse him back to health. The second year they were in a much less dangerous area in the northern high plains of Kenya. They started a church, a small clinic and Ellen worked on training the women and children in the church. Her legacy there remains as recently an orphanage was started from that rural congregation.
Returning to the U.S. now with Ellen having health problems, Larry engaged in training in psychiatry while she taught in a preschool in Omaha. They moved to Idaho in 1988 but still with a desire to return to the mission field. They undertook many short term mission trips ending up ultimately in Mexico for three years. Ellen started a school there and Larry, with her help, started a clinic associated with Niños de Mexico in Texcoco, Mexico. She taught first grade after only a few months in language school and was able to develop a very effective program for the kids who were struggling with school. In 1999 they returned to Caldwell. There Ellen was instrumental in developing another school which lasted about eight years, until the onset of her MS.
A special and heartfelt thanks to the staff of Caldwell Care who always went the extra mile in caring for Ellen.
Ellen is survived by her husband, Dr. Larry Banta; their 3 children, Ethan Banta (Katie), Heather Grever (Shane) and Nate Banta (Stacy); and 11 grandchildren. She leaves behind a legacy of lives changed forever in several countries.
Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may be given to Child Help International Inc. (gifts can be designated for the Ellen home in Odisha, India).
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, October 13th at Eagle Christian Church, 100 S Short Ln, Eagle, under the direction of Dakan Funeral Chapel, Caldwell. Viewing hours will be held Thursday evening, October 12th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Dakan Chapel. Condolences may be shared with the family at www.dakanfuneralchapel.com.