William Clement (Bill) Banks, also known as “Rusty,” to his wife Hazel (Davis) Banks and close friends, passed away peacefully Wednesday, February 15, 2023, in Colorado Springs, CO. He was 98 years old.
Bill is survived by his two sons, Michael Banks and Kent Banks, his daughter Vicki (Banks) Scheel, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Michael and his wife, Betsy Banks have three children; Newton Banks, Emily (Banks) Burman and Lena Banks. Emily and Matt Burman have two children; Davis Burman and Margo Burman. Kent Banks and Yvonne Murray have two children; Casey Banks and Kayla Banks. Vicki and her husband, Barry Scheel have two sons, Paul Lynch and Jesse Lynch. Vicki was previously married to Alan Lynch. Paul and his wife Kara Lynch have two children, Luke Lynch and Evelyn Lynch. Jesse and his wife Melissa Lynch have two sons, Will Lynch and Andy Lynch.
Bill also was blessed with a wonderful extended family from Vicki’s husband, Barry by his previous marriage. They have two daughters Rachel and Corrie each with their own families as follows: Rachel and Matt Rogers and children Griffin and Simone; and Corrie and John Rosensteel and children Eden and Jubilee.
Bill was born August 27, 1924, in Macomb, Illinois to George W. Banks and Nellie (Imes) Banks. He had an older sister, Margo Banks and a younger sister, Pat (Banks) Hulson who both preceded him in death. The Banks family paternal history traces back to roots in the U.S. since the Revolutionary war and to England before that. The maternal ancestry, Imes (changed from the original name, “O’himes”) traces back to Ireland.
Bill grew up on a family farm near Blandinsville, IL. He played football and ran the 440 in Track for Western Academy High School in Macomb, graduating in the Spring of 1942. He then attended Western Illinois University in Macomb for a brief period. After that, and with the advent of World War II. He enlisted in the Navy and was inducted at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago, IL in March of 1943. He was 19 years old.
Bill trained and served as a Signalman for the Navy. He learned and utilized Morse code through radio and light devices; plus, semaphore (flags) to communicate high-level command, control and intelligence information between ships, other vessels and ground stations in convoys on-board and escorting merchant oil tankers (“floating bombs”) in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres. He made three voyages across the Atlantic Ocean and went through the Panama Canal into the Pacific Ocean toward the end of the war. Enemy submarine dangers were always present and at one point, a devastating torpedo attack occurred 12 hours earlier on a convoy in a parallel route. He was lucky. Along the way, ports of call included stops in the boot of Italy, Haifa in Palestine and New York City. He also took a bus tour of the aftermath of the nuclear annihilation of Nagasaki Japan after V.J. day (Victory over Japan), and in recalling it, said that no one on the bus uttered a sound. Bill was discharged in April of 1946 with the rank of Seaman, second class and returned to Macomb.
Bill then went off on his own and took different odd-jobs including setting pins (by hand) in a bowling alley and working in the local ice cream parlor. He arranged to meet a young woman there named Hazel Davis through a mutual friend. They hit it off and started dating. One thing led to another and as of August 24, 1947, they got married at the Presbyterian church in Burgess, IL (Hazel was born in Burgess). Although there were many ups and downs, the marriage lasted through three children, multiple jobs and moves; many laughs, joys and tears - for sixty-three years until Hazel passed away July 27, 2011. She was 84 years old when she died of cancer.
During his life, Bill took several jobs to provide for his wife and family. These included construction jobs and driving a Farm Service (FS) truck to deliver fuel to farmhouses. He moved his family to Freeport, IL around 1960 and worked for a farm loan organization (PCA) until about 1968. He could not advance there without a college degree so decided to pull up roots and buy a general store in a small rural town, Lindenwood, IL and go back to college at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in Dekalb, IL, He commuted to and from school and ran the store with his family. Instead of this creating stress or conflicts, the family became close as never before. Bill graduated NIU August 30, 1971, with a B. S. in Finance, sold the store and moved the family to Dekalb to go to work at the First National Bank there. He started out sorting punch cards and ended up as the Vice President in charge of the Trust department. He also taught and was honored at NIU, was a Lyons club member and officer during this time and did financial work for the Salvation Army and Kiwanis clubs. In June of 1986, Bill got his certificate as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). He retired from the bank in 1987 after 17 years.
Of course, none of this was possible without the love and support of Hazel.
Bill and Hazel decided to move to Mesa Arizona in 1988 to live at Leisure World among family and friends and sell real estate there until 1992 when they moved to Quincy, IL where Hazel’s sister, Mildred lived, and they also had ties to other friends and family.
Bill left Quincy shortly after Hazel died in 2011 to live in Colorado and be close to his sons. He stayed there until his death, having good relationships and good times – always surrounded by friends and family. He was honored to be flown to Washington, D.C. as a veteran to dedicate the WWII Memorial there and received other numerous accolades for his service and accomplishments in churches and gatherings in his time in Colorado.
Bill had a cantankerous zest for life. He really liked to socialize, play cards, dance, flirt, sing, kid around, preach a bit and tell his stories. He had a lot of great stories to tell. He came to believe in the teachings, blessings and redemption of Jesus Christ and read the bible often and devotionals almost every day. Bill was a long-time member of the United Methodist Church: worshipping at the First Methodist church in Freeport, IL the Union United Methodist church (UMC) in Quincy, IL, the Sunrise UMC in Colorado Springs and more recently, Westcliffe Community UMC (and other churches along the way). He wanted people to know that he thought Jesus’s teachings summed up the answers to life’s hardest questions and the reasons to believe in the Heaven beyond our short lives here on Earth. He was a good and gracious man, patriot, citizen, father, husband and friend and will be sorely missed. God’s speed to Heaven, Mr. Banks – and to be with Hazel and others to see and be with again in peace and happiness.
Please post any remembrance pictures, words, thoughts, quotes, comments (or even corrections) to this site for others to see and share. Bill would thank you and God’s providence for a wonderful, happy, full-filling and long life, your inputs and the memories of love you give and may want to share.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to:
Westcliffe United Methodist Church
PO Box 507
Westcliffe, CO 81252
Family and friends will gather this summer in Macomb, IL (most likely) to celebrate Bill’s life and intern his remains next to his beloved wife, Hazel, at the Banks family plot in the cemetery in Blandinsville, IL; Specific information will be announced at a later date.
Thank you and may God bless you!
Westcliffe United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 507, Westcliffe CO 81252