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Roger Allen Banks


1940 - 2019

Roger Allen Banks
October 12, 1940 - June 5, 2019

EDMOND
Roger Allen Banks was born October 12, 1940 in Lawrence, KS and died at home on June 5, 2019 after his third battle with cancer. He grew up in the funeral business in Wichita, KS but was bitten by the music bug early in life. His first experience fixing organs was the theater pipe organ in his uncle's basement - trial and error. He was active in scouting, was an Eagle Scout and enjoyed watching his son and grandsons progress through the ranks. He attended the University of Kansas, majoring in electrical engineering but moved with his parents to Oklahoma City in 1960, switched gears and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 1965 from Oklahoma City University. Because of his uncle's affiliation with the Reuter Organ Company in Lawrence, he had the opportunity to work on occasional pipe organ projects while in school, then went to work full-time for Reuter upon graduation where he was responsible for major new installations around the country, plus tuning and maintenance. He met his wife, Betsy, while installing a large instrument at OId South Church in Boston and told her if he ever married an organist, he would build her a pipe organ. True to his word, he built her a home practice organ which, each time they moved, dictated where they could live. His very last project was to convert the practice organ to a virtual, digital Hauptwerk instrument for their new, smaller home.
Roger and Betsy moved to Oklahoma City in 1970 where he eventually became manager with Oklahoma Wilbert Vaults and was active in the Oklahoma Funeral Directors Association. He established his own organ tuning and maintenance business in the early 80's, having the privilege of working all over the U.S., also serving as the sales representative for the Reuter Organ Company. Because of his work ethic, attention to detail, willingness to learn, his ability to stick with a problem until he found a solution, and his passion for the very best organ and choral music, he made life-long friends with organists, clergy, organ committees and music lovers far and wide who knew they could always count on him.
Roger was preceded in death by his parents, Harriet and Frank Banks, and several aunts and uncles. Survivors include his wife, Betsy of 49 years; his daughter, Jennifer McGrew of Edmond and her husband, Shane and grandchildren, Michael and Jacob; son, Chris of Edmond; sister, Karen Merritt of Owensville, MO, and her husband, Don; brother, Richard of Denver, CO; sister-in-law, Marilyn Burris and her husband, Ron of North Hampton, NH; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was a member of the Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa Chapters of the American Guild of Organists, the American Institute of Organbuilders and the Last Frontier Council. He was a long-time member and former vestry member at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Edmond.
A scholarship has been set up in his name at the University of Oklahoma to benefit organ building and technology students - the only program of its kind in the U.S. Memorials should be addressed to the OU Foundation, Banks Fund
#33905, c/o The American Organ Institute, 2101 W. Tecumseh Rd., Suite C, Norman, OK 73069.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, June 18th, at 2:00 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4400 N. Shartel in Oklahoma City, home of the organs he has lovingly cared for since 1965. His ashes will be scattered at a later date in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado where he enjoyed hiking and the mountains most of his life.
Published in The Oklahoman on June 13, 2019
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