Pastor E. Wayne Hanks was born on October 2, 1939, in Beaumont, Texas. He was the firstborn child to Reverend Alvie Franklin and Violet Viola Johnson Hanks, followed by siblings Robert Glenn, Franklin Ray, Glenda Elaine, and cousins Ruthie Marie Hoy and Donald Glenn Hoy. The family moved to Troup, Texas, where Rev. Alvie Hanks pastored before moving to Alexandria, Louisiana, and then settling back in the small East Texas town of Daisetta, where Pastor Hanks would graduate from high school.
Growing up, Pastor Hanks enjoyed playing basketball in his free time, although much of his time was spent saving money for college by mowing lawns, painting houses, restoring old cars, and refinishing hardwood floors. He successfully put himself through Southwestern Assembly of God College (now University) and was even president of the student body his senior year.
It was 1959 when he met the great love of his life, Mary Lou Wood. They were married June 1, 1962, and celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary this past June. It was on Mary Lou’s birthday, January 18, 1975, that their son, Wayne, Jr., was born. After living in Garland for over thirty years, they moved to Rockwall in 1999, the same year Wayne Jr. married Kristin Elaine Gandillon. Pastor and Mary Lou were blessed with twin granddaughters, Reese Morgan and Hayden Blair, on January 15, 2008, and grandson, Carson Wayne, on March 19, 2013. Once these adored grandchildren were born, frequent visits and holidays were spent in Austin.
Pastor Hanks was just a 14-yr-old boy at a youth camp when he knew God was calling him to a life in ministry. Clearly, he answered that call! His first pastoral role was at Lavon Assembly of God from 1962-1964. The next fifty-seven years would be in service to First Assembly of God in Garland (now First at Firewheel) first as associate pastor in 1964, then senior pastor in 1974. Under God, he led First at Firewheel in expanding facilities, relocation, founding Firewheel Christian Academy, and other ministries. He led the multi-national congregation in four church plants and partnered with twenty-three Parent Affiliated Churches (PACs). His heart for missions took him to over forty countries, speaking in churches, camps, military retreats, missions’ tours, conferences, and commencement exercises.
Ordained in 1964, he served on numerous boards and committees; four years as Greater Dallas Pastors’ Association Secretary, five years as Garland Ministerial Alliance Secretary, eight years as North Dallas Section Secretary-Treasurer, and twenty years as North Dallas Section Presbyter. Boards include twenty years on Dallas Teen/Life Challenge Board, three years on Assemblies of God World Missions Board, twelve years on International Media Ministries Board, six years on Unsión Television Network Board (Quito, Ecuador), and sixteen years on Southwestern Assemblies of God University Board of Regents. Pastor Hanks served as a member of the North Texas District Presbytery since 1980, Executive Presbytery since 1993, General Presbytery since 1999, and Pleasant Hills Children’s Home Board since 1998. Upon retirement, he was elected Honorary Executive Presbyter and Honorary General Presbyter.
Pastor Hanks held Bachelor of Arts degrees from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Texas A&M University-Commerce, with graduate studies at Texas A&M University-Commerce, and University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, PA. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Florida Theological Seminary. Mentors who influenced his life included his father, Alvie F. Hanks; his predecessor, Leonard Wood; his friends, W. C. Mangrum, J. L. (Bill) McQueen, and James K. Bridges.
After his many years of dedicated service in the ministry, Pastor Hanks retired with Mary Lou to Austin to be near Wayne Jr., Kristin, and the grandchildren. “Poppy” loved going to their football games, lacrosse games, track meets, theater productions, and school events. During this short time of retirement, he especially enjoyed eating Wayne Jr.’s excellent cooking, watching Texas A&M sports, and writing a book chronicling his time at Garland First Assembly of God/First at Firewheel to be published in late 2023.
Pastor Hanks is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Hanks; son, E. Wayne Hanks, Jr. (Kristin) of Austin; brother, Robert Glenn Hanks, Sr., of Victoria; sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ann Smith Hanks of Spring; sister, Glenda Elaine Hanks Nagel (Glen) of Greenville; sister-cousin, Ruthie Marie Hoy Simons (Gary) of Cypress and brother-cousin Donald Glenn Hoy (Dianna) of Meyersville; granddaughters, Reese Morgan and Hayden Blair Hanks of Austin; grandson, Carson Wayne Hanks of Austin; nephews, Robert Glenn Hanks, Jr. (Cheryl) of Clarkton, NC, Michael Wayne Nagel (Tonia) of Wylie, Gregory Lee Fetters, Jr. (Priscila) of Pasadena, Jason Kent Hoy (Joy) of Meyersville; nieces, Regina Gale Hanks Nicks (Steve) of Colorado, Charissa Ann Hanks Maglara (Alex) of Spring, Melissa Rae Hanks Arnold (Craig) of Yorktown, Angela Rene’ Nagel Chambers (Trent) of Lavon, Anna Marie Fetters Elmore (Jim) of Cypress, Shelly Nicole Hoy Garcia (Johnny) of Meyersville; cousins Charles Russell Ashley (Gayle) of Yorkville, IL, Richard Lynn Johnson (Debi) of Chicago, IL, Diana LaRue Ashley of Montgomery, IL, and Gerry Ann Elizabeth Guzman (John) of Lucas; great-nephews and nieces: Chase, Frank, and Vaughn Nicks; Giuliana Zenobia Maglara; Benjamin Oliver Arnold; Briana and Christian Chambers; Emilee and Ashtyn Nagel; Nicholas and Olivia Elmore; Brianna and Jayce Garcia; Brett, Madeline, and Zachary Hoy; and Emily, Jared, Gabriela, Josiah and Jaziel Fetters.
In addition to his parents, Pastor Hanks is preceded in death by his brother Franklin Ray Hanks.
Pastor E. Wayne Hanks made a spiritual impact on lives that will be felt for generations to come. While he will be greatly missed on this earth, we have no doubt that he was heartily welcomed into his heavenly home with a resounding, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The Reverend E. Wayne Hanks Scholarship Fund has been established at Southwestern Assemblies of God University for Pastoral Ministry majors. Contributions may be sent to:
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Attn: Rick Bowles, Vice President for Advancement
1200 Sycamore Street, Waxahachie, TX 75165
(Please designate “The Reverend E. Wayne Hanks Scholarship Fund” on contribution)