"BB," I says, "how are ya?"
"Look at that sunset!" he says.
Richard Banks is an old family friend and former Bishop at my church. BB is short for either Bishop Banks or Brother Banks, take your pick. He liked me to call him BB. He is an amazing man.
|Richard Banks pictured here with one of his sons, Jimmy Banks.|
Bishop Banks died yesterday at the respected old age of 87 years. I'm saddened by his loss, but also very happy for him. He was never one to let a sunset or a pretty flower go unnoticed or appreciated, so the thought of him passing into a place like heaven, which is reputed to be quite beautiful, gives my tears the happiness that he would have wanted for all who love him.
|Bishop Banks at the Spanish Fork, Utah 24th of July parade in 1989.|
BB was born in 1925 and raised in Spanish Fork a short distance from my Dad's family. My Dad was born in 1937, so BB was quite a bit older than him. Dad was 7 years old when BB went off to war in 1944. At that time, my Dad loved listening to the war news, and following the movements of the armies in Europe and in the Pacific. My Dad remembered that, at age 7, he knew that BB was serving in Patton's 3rd Army in Europe. He doesn't remember when or how he learned that BB was reported missing in action, but later the details emerged.
|US POWs in Germany. http://www.csindy.com|
Bishop Banks has a love for the USA rivaled by none. He has a flag pole in his front yard, and flies the American Flag every day. BB is frequently an honored guest at civic events, school assemblies, and all kinds of patriotic ceremonies. He was so happy a few years ago when he was able to travel back to Washington DC and visit the World War II Memorial with a close friend with whom he shared his POW experience.
|Honored guests at Spanish Fork's Landmark High School. That's Fern Lindley on the right.|
My Dad thought more highly of Bishop Banks than any other man on earth. I remember one time my nephew, Adam, criticized the owner of the house around the block for putting up his Christmas lights so early. Dad was quiet most of the time, but when Adam said that, Dad's demeanor changed into a bear. "Don't you say anything bad about that man! Don't you know he was wounded and captured by the Germans on Christmas Day, 1944? He can put up his #$*@ Christmas lights any time he wants! He can leave them up all year if he wants!"
|BB came down to watch his old church building get torn down.|
One more story. Part of Spanish Fork Main Street is lined with large, oval flower boxes. Each Spring, different groups go down and plant flowers and whatnot. Last Spring, after deciding that some of the planter boxes were lacking, BB walked over to Main Street and planted squash in several of them. Isn't that awesome? I was going to get down there and take some pictures of them when they got huge, but I never did. Maybe someone else did.
Yesterday I dropped by to see his family. They had his flag at half mast. That was kind of a tear jerker.
The current bishop of our church, John Stewart, visited Bishop Banks in a specialized rehabilitation facility in Provo the day before he died. I understand that BB said to the bishop, "I'm at peace. I'm going to die tomorrow." And he did.
Goodbye, BB. Say "hey" to my Dad for me, k?
Thanks for listening. And remember (WHACK!!!) to look at the sunset.