Jonilea Joy Tauber Rankin was born on May 21, 1936, in the small Czech community of Kolin, Louisiana. She turned 85 in May and was called home to be with the angels on September 10, 2021. She lived in Longview for 55 years and served the community in numerous ways. She was a dedicated nurse and caregiver. She was an avid rancher and proud owner of the JTR Angus Farm for over 40 years. She received her Diploma in Nursing from Methodist Hospital in Dallas in 1957, and her BSN from TCU in 1962. She recently retired her nursing license after 62 years. During her nursing career, she served as a clinical nurse at Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas, school nurse for the Longview Independent School District, Gregg County Public Health Nurse, and Longview Cardiology Clinic.
Jonilea had many interests over the years. She could be counted on to attend all her children’s events and was an active volunteer whether it be room mother, PTA officer, Camp Fire and Cub Scout leader, and CCD teacher at church. She attended all the Lobo games supporting the band and Viewettes. She was a founding member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. She spent countless hours volunteering for the church, and had such pride in her role delivering prayer shawls to people in need. Jonilea also enjoyed bowling and participated in Oil Bowl Lanes leagues for many years. She frequently attended state and national bowling tournaments where her grandchildren loved to cheer on their Nonny.
Jonilea volunteered for over 20 years for Meals on Wheels. Additionally, she was a long-term volunteer with Heartsway Hospice, and particularly enjoyed her time helping children at Heartway’s Grief Camp. She had a way of connecting with people and provided a listening ear for anyone.
She loved life on the farm, and was able to spend her final days listening to her animals and her birds. She was known as Mama Rank to so many kids. It was not unusual to have seventeen kids at the house at any given time. She touched so many lives and was deeply loved by her family and friends. She always made you feel special, even if she was not close by. She is well known for sending birthday and anniversary cards to people and their children year after year. It was not really your birthday unless you received your card from “Joni and the Airline clan”.
Jonilea was preceded in death by her parents, Oldrich and Anne Tauber, brother Dr. David Tauber, husband D.W. “Speedy” Aynesworth, and Dr. Ted L. Rankin.
She is survived by her three children -- Mari (Ed) Woomer of Houston, Jennifer (Roger) Meagher of Coppell, and Ted Rankin Jr. of Longview. She was so proud of her grandkids – Stephanie Woomer of Middleton, WI; Kimberly Woomer of Austin; Kyle Goodwyn of Ft. Worth; Megan Goodwyn of Dallas; and Jonathan Meagher of Tylertown, MS. She was the matriarch of the family, and stayed very close with her surviving family members Wayne (Donna) Cespiva of Lake Charles, LA; Brian (Sandy) Cespiva of Alexandria, LA, and Linda Elsing of Mantao, NC. Extended family includes Dr. D.D. (Michelle) Aynesworth of Austin, Jerry (Elvera) Aynesworth, and Jean Ann (Mark) Johnston of Salt Lake City, UT, plus numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Whenever we said good-bye after our visit, she would hug us tight and say “You bring me such joy!” Mom, you brought us so much joy, and we will love you forever. May you rest in heavenly peace.
A Rosary will be held on Friday, September 17, 2021, from 6:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m in the Chapel of Welch Funeral Home with a visitation to follow. A Funeral Mass will be held in her honor on Saturday, September 18, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Longview, Texas where Reverend Daniel P. Dower, STL will officiate.
Our heartfelt thanks to the wonderful care providers at Christus Good Shepherd and Heart'sWay Hospice, especially Josh, her nurse, and Tisha her aide. They truly do the work of angels.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a donation to your favorite charity of choice or Heart'sWay Hospice or Longview Community Ministries Meals on Wheels.
To send flowers to Jonilea's family, please visit our floral store.