James W. BannerSeptember 17, 1938 ~ June 22, 2017 (age 78)
Jim Banner passed away peacefully at home on June 22nd after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. His wife of 47 years, Ruth, was at his side.
Jim was born September 17, 1938 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Arlene and Walter Banner. The oldest of 4 siblings, Jim grew up in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia suburbs. He attended Carnegie Mellon (then Carnegie Tech) in Pittsburgh and graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1961. During college Jim began working at US Steel, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, and after graduation the work took him to Gary, Indiana, for several years. A new opportunity with Morton Salt brought Jim to Chicago in the late 1960s. It was there that he met the love of his life and future wife, Ruth Farr, at a church mixer. He proposed on the first date. They married on November 22, 1969. Two years later their family started with the birth of their son, Jeb, followed by Susan, Carl, and Carolyn.
In 1978 the family moved from Evanston, Illinois, to South Bend, Indiana. On April Fools’ Day in 1983, Jim and Ruth purchased a small automotive remanufacturing company, R&R Regulators. This proved to be a good move, as the company grew quickly under Jim’s leadership and provided a consistent source of income for the family. Jim took an unorthodox approach to running the blue collar business, successfully introducing profit share and wellness programs. He eventually sold the business in 1998.
Jim loved sports. He actively coached soccer for several decades. He still is known by many as “Coach Banner”. He served as the Youth Commissioner for the Michiana Soccer Association and coached many years at Trinity School at Greenlawn, where his children had attended school. The school now has a Jim Banner Student Athlete award given out each year to a male and female student athlete.
Jim was often found in leadership roles and also served as the president of the Mishawaka Lions Club. In later years, he took an active interest in public education and frequently attended School Board meetings, advocating for a “No Excuses” approach to education.
Before Parkinson’s slowed him down, Jim had a larger-than-life personality. He ran up every flight of stairs and wished everyone he met to “Have a terrific day!”. But Parkinson’s didn’t stop Jim from starting new things. In the last 15 years he helped start a weekly group called “Tuesday Talkers” that created a regular space for in-depth conversations with other deep thinkers and was featured in the South Bend Tribune. Jim loved a great conversation and sought out meaningful encounters wherever he went.
Even until the last years of his life, Jim remained an active and competitive chess player. He loved the game and gave patient instruction to anyone wishing to learn, young or old.
Jim is survived by his wife, his siblings Bill Banner, Rebecca Banner and Orrin Banner, as well as his four children and 12 grandchildren. Jim’s passion for life and love for his family, friends, community and ND International friends will be felt for many years to come. He was deeply loved and will be sorely missed.
The family wants to thank: Heartland Hospice for their caring, generous support over the last 1.5 years; dear Dr. LeoVerhagen at Rush University Hospital Motion Disorders Clinic; our wonderful helpers these past several years, Bernice, Glennie, Penny, Latoria, Elayne, Darla, Curtis, Dani, Priscilla, Rachel, Michelle; and our many loving friends from church and community, for their prayers and concern.
Friends may spend time with Jim’s family from 5 – 7 pm on Thursday, June 29, in Goethals & Wells Funeral Home, 503 W. 3rd Street, Mishawaka. A time of sharing memories will follow the visitation at 7 pm.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 am on Friday, June 30, in St. Jude Catholic Church, where Jim and Ruth became parishioners last year. The church’s address is 19704 Johnson Road, South Bend. Rev. John Delaney will serve as celebrant. Burial will follow at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Lakeville.
Memorials are suggested to Trinity School at Greenlawn or Hope Ministries or Camp Ray Bird. Assistance with memorials is available through the funeral home.
Trinity School at Greenlawn
107 S. Greenlawn Avenue, South Bend IN 46617
432 S. Lafayette Blvd., South Bend IN 46601
Camp Ray Bird
25765 Edison Road, South Bend IN 46628