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James P. Banks

1921 - 2013 Obituary Condolences Gallery
James P. Banks

James P. Banks, 92, passed peacefully from this life on December 2, 2013 in Brecksville, Ohio. He now joins his beloved wife, Johann, and a host of family and friends for what is surely a joyful reunion.

All who knew him will remember Jim as a warm, congenial man with a great sense of humor and an extraordinary sense of compassion. He was devoted to his family and dedicated his life to service above self. A gifted communicator, Jim believed one must "act with integrity, serve with love, and work for peace".

James Parsons Banks was born in Ilion, New York on May 12, 1921, the son of Gladys King Banks, a fine artist, and Mark Beal "Pop" Banks, a revered college coach and athletic director. Jim, or "Shootsie" as his friends called him, graduated from New Hartford High School, New Hartford, New York in 1940.

A World War II veteran, Jim served from 1942-1946 and attained the rank of Sergeant with the Army Air Force 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron, Pacific Theatre. After his military service, he attended Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York from 1946-1948 and Ohio University in Athens, Ohio from 1948-1950, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce.

He met Johann Laudenslager, an executive secretary at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., on a blind date arranged by friends. They were wed in Jamestown, New York on May 31, 1952 and enjoyed a beautiful, loving marriage for nearly 60 years. Johann passed away in February of 2012.

For 22 years, Jim served as director of development for higher education institutions including Ohio University, Case Western Reserve University and The University of Akron, where he served for 19 years. Jim coordinated the $10 million 1970 Centennial Campaign that generated the funds necessary to build the University of Akron's E. J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. Jim's background also included 15 years in public relations for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and the United Way of Summit County. He served as president of the Ohio Council of Fund Raising Executives, president of the Akron Chapter of Torch International and trustee of the Northern Ohio Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. In 1987, Jim received an award for "Outstanding Professional Fund Raiser" from NSFRE. He retired from the University of Akron in 1987.

Community service was Jim's greatest passion. He served as trustee and past president of Family Services of Summit County, past president of United Disability Services, past president of Associated Health Agencies and past president of the Hattie Larlham Foundation for children and adults with profound developmental disabilities. Jim was a Rotarian for more than 40 years and founded or assisted in chartering seven Rotary clubs, including the Rotary Club of Stow-Munroe Falls. He was past president of the Rotary Club of Cuyahoga Falls and served as Governor, District 6630 from 1978-1979. Rotary awarded him the Michael J. Johns Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Jim was a member of First Congregational Church of Akron for nearly 60 years, and served the church as senior deacon, trustee, moderator of the pastoral search committee and member of the stewardship board.

James P. Banks was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Johann; his mother and father, Gladys and Mark Beal Banks; and his brothers, Robert, Mark and Richard Banks. He is survived by his loving children, Cheryl Banks Meyers (Jonathan), and David Banks (Deborah); grandchildren, Lia Kane, Emelie Valentine, Lily Valentine, Jordan Banks, Evan Banks, Dustin Wilkinson and Jason Wilkinson; and great-grandson, Liam Glendenning.

A celebration of his life will be held at First Congregational Church of Akron on December 14, 2013 at 1 p.m., followed by a reception in the church dining room.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the First Congregational Church of Akron, 292 E Market St., Akron OH 44308-2091 or to The Rotary Club of Stow-Munroe Falls, James P. and Johann L. Banks Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 1352, Stow, Ohio. (REDMON, STOW, 330-688-6631)
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Dec. 8, 2013
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