Annette Patton Bingham was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, to John Constantine Patton and Nettie Elizabeth Horne. She was nurtured and baptized at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant and after marriage continued her lifelong service in the Methodist Church. She was a graduate of Greensboro High School and earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts and Letters from North Carolina State University.
On September 10, 1955 she married William Louis Bingham of Roper, North Carolina. In their married life they lived in Lafayette, Indiana; State College, Pennsylvania; Nancy, Lorraine, France; Hyattsville, Maryland; Chicago,Illinois and Raleigh, North Carolina. Together they raised four children: JEB, Allen, Dan, and Lorri. She taught middle school science for 17 years in the Wake County Public School System.
She was a faithful member of Avent Ferry United Methodist Church, serving many leadership capacities; served on the Conference Board of Missions and chaired Volunteers in Mission; chaired the North Carolina Developmental Disabilities Citizens Advisory Council for 15 years; served on the Board of Directors for the Triangle Interfaith Alliance; chaired Wake County Housing and Homeless Advisory Committee; co-founder of Kids Cafe and AventWest Community Development Corporation.
She is survived by her husband of 61 years, William Louis Bingham; her son, John Elden “JEB” Bingham of Butner, North Carolina; her son, William Allen Bingham and wife Cynthia Lee Bingham, and grandchildren Elizabeth Ann Bingham and William Lee Bingham, all of Pinehurst, North Carolina; son Marcel Daniel Bingham and wife Martha Gail Hamner, and grandchildren Elena Claire Bingham and Seth Daniel Bingham, all of Syracuse, New York; and daughter Nancy Lorraine Bingham of Garner, North Carolina; her brother John Constantine Patton, Jr. of Little River,South Carolina; her sister-in-law Juanita Bingham Miller of Fayetteville, North Carolina; her sister-in-law Priscilla Bingham Durkin of Mt. Gilead, North Carolina, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, John Constantine Patton, her mother Nettie Elizabeth Horne, and her sister, Martha Irene Tucker.
Many of you will remember Bill and Annette from their year in Chicago in the early 70’s with their four children, Allen, Lorrie, Jeb, and Daniel. Bill, an Engineering Prof at NC State University, was part of the economic team at the Maliwada HDP consult and both Annette and Bill were at the Woburn Lawn consult. Annette was on the Panchayat trek around 1980. Their son Allen, a UMC minister in the area hit by Matthew, spent a year in Kenya. Bill and Annette traveled back to Maliwada with Nelson and Elaine this past year and were met by one of the village elders who came forth with his treasured copy of the HDP document and showed a certificate with Bill’s signature on it.
Nelson and Elaine Stover, Charles Lingo, Herman Greene and I represented the EI and ICA at her very meaningful memorial service in Raleigh. Allen Bingham’s words about his mother and his family’s journey were especially meaningful as he spoke of being raised to the words of a song sung to the tune of Yellow Submarine, which grew out of his family’s experience with the Ecumenical Institute and Institute of Cultural Affairs. He went on to relate the words of the song and admitted that it took him years to realize that these were words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s paper on Freedom. So, freedom, responsibility and duty all were keystones to their family’s understanding of life. I can imagine that Allen is a very powerful shepherd to his UMC congregation, many of whom were there in the service.
A representative from the NC UMC Conference Board of Missions spoke of Annette being known as the Draggon Lady because she was always Draggin someone off to some mission. A gentleman from Haiti who was introduced as “an adopted son” of the Binghams had flown from Haiti to be present. He is an engineer working on water systems in Haiti. I wondered if he could have been one of Engineer Bill’s students.
Each of the four designated persons who presented the eulogies attested to the wide reach of this family’s care regardless of race, gender or religion. Toward the end of the service a gentleman from the audience introduced himself as a member of the Muslim community and celebrated the difference that this woman (and Bill) had made for people of his community through their interfaith dialogue work. I met several people from Ghana and from Sierra Leone who were part of the welcoming outreach of Annette and Bill. Also celebrated was the about 20 years of a Kids’ Café, co-founded by Bill and Annette, an after school care of enrichment, nutrition and tutoring for immigrants and minority students.
With this family we celebrate a life fully and gratefully lived in service to others. “For All the Saints who from their labors rest” …. Alleluia!
~~ Lynda Cock
Thank you, dear Lynda, for enriching our collective memory of one wonderful woman, Annette Patton Bingham. How very little any of us knew about each other’s myriad gifts when we were in the Movement/Order and were focused together on the immediate mission. It astounds me of the abundant capacities that were never tapped at that amazing time of corporate engagement and yet have flowered in profusion since then.
Annette is now on my list of saints. A special memory of the Binghams happened when I was conducting the Florida to New England college visitation marathon, summer 1987 when our twin sons were juniors in high school. Living so close to Cape Kennedy at the time, they were convinced they would be the first twin astronauts in space, so had their sights on an aeronautical engineering major.
When we visited the Binghams at the University where Bill was teaching, Bill and Annette helped Jon and Ben reframe that single minded focus and encouraged them otherwise: “cast your net broadly, and do not specialize prematurely.” What wisdom! Ben did major in chemical engineering, but chose medicine; Jon majored in neuroscience and Spanish, but chose international medicine. AND Gabby Gifford’s husband and his twin brother became the first twin astronauts in space!
I give thanks for the completed life of such a wise spirit woman, Annette, and rejoice that so many of our OE colleagues, like you, Lynda, and others could stand in for us as you sang (actually or imaginally) “For All the Saints……….” Grace, peace and love for all our beloved community,