Barbara Ann Leach was born on July 7, 1952 to Ecoma Banks, Sr. and Bobbie Lee Reed Banks the third of 13 children to this union and 5th of 15 in all in Joliet, Illinois. She was reared in the Fairmont Community of Lockport, Illinois. She graduated from Fairmont Jr. High School in 1966 and from Lockport High School January 1970. Her first job was at Lenny’s Restaurant on South Chicago Street in Joliet, Illinois. It was there, summer of 1969, where she met the love of her life, Melvin Leach after a two year courtship; they were married February 13, 1971.
In high school she studied on the business and secretarial track and decided to graduate high school a semester early to work at Joliet Federal Bank. She was one of the first Black women to be hired as a teller. She had a life-long career of working including Illinois Bell, volunteering at Catholic Charities in Joliet, Illinois, work at Borg Warner in Maywood, IL, Commonwealth Edison and Exelon Mobil, which is where she retired in 2008.
Barbara’s spiritual journey is reflective of a life covered by the hand of the Lord. She was reared at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, where her father served as a Deacon. Growing up on Fairmount Avenue, she remembers having to walk past the Prayer Tower Church Of God In Christ and desiring to attend. During her courting talk with her father, she just wanted to attend the sanctified church. With his permission, that visit had a profound effect on the rest of her life. After marriage, her brother in law, Pastor Charlie Ray Tyes of Durant, MS witnessed to her. But the Lord visited her in the delivery room, December of 1974. And prior to giving birth to her 2nd child Melvin, Jr., she dedicated her life to Christ.
She served diligently and faithfully at Prayer Tower wearing many hats as a Sunday school teacher, aspiring missionary, prayer warrior and Prayer Tower Mass Choir Member. In 1998, her family became members of the Lively Hope COGIC, where she continued her ministry as the adult Sunday School teacher, a Choir member, licensed evangelist missionary, president of the missionary board and church mother, under the leadership of Pastor Frank and 1st Lady Beverly Edmon. She served in administration as a volunteer for the head start program in the Fairmont community, an award winning published poet and song writer, with “Does A Mother Have A Heart” at the Washington Library of Congress, all while being a hands on mother, wife, sister and friend.
Her resilience and determination to overcome the devil came full force when sickness overtook her body in 2005. She repeatedly fought back from numerous afflictions and consistently gave God the Glory. For she believed, “if He Doesn’t fix it, I know He’s able!” That faith alone won the admiration and respect from people all over the country.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Ecoma and Bobbie Banks of Whatley, AL. She leaves to cherish a loving, devoted husband of 47 and 1/2 years, 9 children, Kesha, Melvin Jr, Naomi, Esther, Beulah, Joel, Andrew and his wife Trisha, Ruthie Mae and Miracle; five grandchildren Maurice Redmond Jr, Hannah Spivey, Nydrea and Nia Patterson, and Makhi; 2 god-children, Frank Edmon III and Erick Dorris; 10 sisters Bessie, Shirley, O’Drean, Mary (Donald Gore), Pastor Debra (Ray Mercer), Darlene, Carol, Oressia, Pamela (Kevin Cox), and 5 brothers Bruce, Ecoma Jr., Charles, David (Mary) and Fred Sr. (Shiela); a sister in love, Beulah Leach Gater of Booneville, MS, and Brother in Love, Pastor Charlie Ray Tyes of Durant, MS. and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and extended family in the body of Christ.