Mother of SC teacher who died from COVID-19 dies weeks after daughter

Family says the mother also died from the virus.
Updated: Sep. 27, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Shirley Bannister, mother of 28-year-old Richland Two teacher Demi Bannister, has died from complications of COVID-19, according to family.

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Shirley Bannister was the Department Chair for Nursing at Midlands Tech and told WIS in 2019 nursing was her “God-given passion.” WIS honored Bannister with a Community Builder award for her work inspiring a new generation of nurses.

“She finds more than 24 hours in the day, and I don’t know how she does it to make the world a better place,” said colleague Kelly Horn in 2019.

Bannister had lost her daughter Demi on September 7 and was put in the hospital because of COVID-19 a couple of days later, sister-in-law Shirley Mills Bannister said.

Mills Bannister, who says she loved sharing a first name with her relative, describes Bannister as a “wonderful, wonderful person.” She added her sister-in-law was, “certainly an angel on Earth, there is no doubt about that.”

Shirley Bannister tested positive for COVID-19 the same day her daughter died, according to Mills Bannister.

And while they don’t know when or how Demi or Shirley contracted coronavirus, Mills Bannister she remembers getting tested was difficult for Shirley Bannister.

She said despite being a healthcare professional, Shirley Bannister went to the emergency room three times before eventually being admitted.

“I just heard her saying, ‘Shirley...they won’t test us, they won’t let me get any treatment because they say that my symptoms are not severe enough and I need treatment.’ So, I think that what she would want is for no one else to go through what she went through to get treated,” Shirley Mills Bannister said.

She said wanting to help others was central to Shirley Bannister’s life.

Mills Bannister said her sister-in-law’s house was the go-to place for holidays and special events and she would miss seeing her relative treat all the little kids in the family.

Shirley Bannister’s daughter was known as a “songbird” around Windsor Elementary, the school she taught at, and Mills Bannister laughs as she said singing was not one of the elder Bannister’s skills.

“She did do some mean lip-syncing, though,” Mills Bannister laughed.

To remember Shirley, Mills Bannister tells people they just need to love.

“Love your family, friends your colleagues, and your neighbors and give whatever gifts you have.”

Midlands Technical College President Dr. Ronald L. Rhames released a statement regarding Bannister’s passing saying:

“My heart is broken. Shirley was like an angel on Earth. Her life mission was caring for others. She earned her nursing degree from Midlands Technical College as a teen, went on to earn a master’s degree. Shirley eventually returned to MTC to teach nursing and impact the lives of hundreds of future healers in our community as chair of the MTC Nursing Department. While her death is devastating, her impact is everlasting. The entire MTC family offer her family support and our prayers.”

Shirley is survived by her husband Dennis Bannister who also confirmed Shirley’s passing, but didn’t want to speak further at this time. Demi was Shirley’s only child.

Shirley Bannister was 57 years old.

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