Death of pastor’s wife inspires family, friends to realize her vision for children

New playground to be dedicated Sunday at Rowan Co. church
Shari handled the children’s ministry, and for years had a dream when it came to the church playground. Bob and his sons decided to see it through.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 3:16 PM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Sometimes news stories are followed by developments that are hard to imagine. In April of 2021 WBTV did a story about folks enjoying a day of beautiful weather, and he talked to two grandparents playing with their grandchildren at the Salisbury Community Park. What happened just a few months later to that was both tragic and inspirational.

“That’s the day we were at the park with our granddaughters. It had been a rainy winter and it was a pretty spring day and we were there with our three oldest granddaughters,” said Pastor Bob Bankhead.

Just a few months after the happy scene at the park, life changed for the Bankheads.

“One of us said if our life and ministry were to end now, we felt fulfilled, that we had fulfilled our purpose, we had been faithful, little did we know that a few weeks later both of us would come down with COVID,” Bankhead added.

Bob got better, but Shari didn’t.

“She would end up being in the hospital for a total of 28 days, the last 17 on a ventilator in ICU,” Bankhead said. “She just continued to get progressively worse, and my sons and I met with the doctor on Thursday morning October 7 and together made the decision that it was the best thing for her to remove her from the ventilator. There she took her last breath.”

Bob is pastor at World Hope Worship Center on Mooresville Road in Salisbury.

“It’s been the most difficult time in my life,” Bankhead added. “I’m a different person today than I was 9-10 months ago.”

Shari handled the children’s ministry, and for years had a dream when it came to the church playground. Bob and his sons decided to see it through.

“How about in lieu of flowers we make a donation to the World Hope playground fund, which we didn’t have at the time. Sheri’s hope, dream was to build a commercial playground for the children,” Bankhead said. “We’ve had gifts of multiple $1000′s come in and we’ve had gifts of $10 to some in and all of them put together is building a pretty impressive playground.”

A large commercial playground will be dedicated behind the church on Sunday in Shari’s memory because so many wanted to contribute. It will be larger than they ever imagined…and every time Bob looks at it, he’ll see more than swings and slides.

“I think Shari smiling…that was her heart…as a mother, grandmother, children’s ministry leader, her greatest joy was seeing kids having fun…so yeah, I think she would be totally honored by it.”

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