Thomas H. Banks(1929 - 2013)

Thomas H. Banks D.V.M. August 1, 1929 - March 11, 2013 Dr. Thomas Banks was a dearly-loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and cousin. He was a compassionate veterinarian, leader, soldier, mentor, community servant, and fearless adventurer. Left behind from his most recent great adventure are his wife of sixty-one years, Beverly; daughter Lynda and son-in-law Paul Thomas; grandchildren Larissa Thomas, M.D., Cooper and Nathan Banks; sister Marian Cross; nieces Sarah, Mona, Christina, and Lisa. His son Glade Alan Banks and his infant granddaughter Carly, preceded him in his final earthly journey. Tom attended Casa Loma School in Bakersfield, before moving with his family to Modesto in 1936, graduating from Modesto High School, and UC Davis with a degree in Animal Husbandry in 1949. He received an ROTC Commission and was called to active duty in 1951, and began his life of many adventures by riding his bike from his ROTC graduation at FT. Lewis, WA to Modesto, CA. Tom and Beverly were married in 1951. Tom was reassigned to Ft. Benning, GA, for training before being sent to the Punchbowl area of Korea, where he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He was described by his buddy as a "perfect soldier, leader, totally fearless" He also began a life-long interest in community service by helping the Fifth Regimental Combat Team sponsor a Korean boy's orphanage which he and Bev visited in 1978 and which is still operating today. Returning from active duty, his next adventure was becoming a new father to Lynda. He also returned to an expanded dairy farm in Modesto. Additionally, his family grew with the birth of his son, Glade Alan. Interested in the health if his cows and inspired by his veterinarian. Tom decided to return to UC Davis to earn his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. He practiced veterinary medicine for almost 50 years at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital ("the one with the horse on top") where he showed great compassion for many animals and their owners and became well-known for his orthopaedic skills. He also enjoyed sharing his experiences and knowledge with other veterinarians, mentoring at least twenty-five new graduates who worked with him in the hospital before becoming independent practitioners. He was proud of his profession, his colleagues, his partners, and staff. It gave him special pleasure to involve others in all the projects he enjoyed. Tom continued his interest in serving his community by using his veterinary skills to aid in caring for injured raptors at FACT (the Facility for Animal Care and Treatment) at CSUB. Another highlight in his practice experience and service to his community was helping establish CALM, the California Living Museum, where he worked with the Junior League of Bakersfield to begin the Docent program and served as Founding President and veterinarian. Additionally, Tom was a Charter Member, President, and Paul Harris Fellow of Bakersfield South Rotary, exemplifying the motto of "Service Above Self." His friends in Rotary joined him in sponsoring the first aviary at CALM as well as supporting the Flying Samaritans. An avocation, which adventurer Tom had begun as a veterinary student, was becoming a private pilot. His piloting skills provided not only many vacation trips for his family, but also involved him in an international service project, Flying Samaritans, a volunteer group of doctors, dentists, and interpreters who brought medical services to remote villages in Baja California. For almost twenty years, until a road was built to San Francisco de la Sierra, Tom and his friends from Rotary continued to fly to Baja several times a year. After Tom gradually retired from practice, he continued to be a fearless explorer. He learned to sail, eventually captaining his own boat on a blue-water trip to Hawaii and back with Bev and two other crew members. Tom and Bev also took their boat on two sailing trips up the Inside Passage to Alaska and many journeys around the Channel Islands and the San Juans. Later, Tom and Bev enjoyed touring around the world, including a trip to the North Cape and another to Antarctica in the same year. Their favorite journey was to South Africa and Botswana to see the animals. Tom's remarkable and adventure-filled life will be remembered at a service on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 3 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1314 Oswell Street. In lieu of flowers. the family requests that memorial donations be made to CALM (California Living Museum, 10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy., Bakersfield, CA 93306) or to the Panorama Vista Preserve, (c/o C. Belli, 5025 Panorama Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93306), where a California Sycamore will be planted for him. "When we come to the end of all the light we know. one of two things will happen. Either we will be given something solid upon which to place our feet, or we will be taught to fly."

Published in Bakersfield Californian on Apr. 3, 2013