John Banks passed away peacefully on July 12, 2021 after a brief illness.
He is survived by his beloved life partner Dominic Clarke, his sister-in-law, Marjorie Banks (Kitchener), his nieces and nephews David Banks (Isabel) (Kingston), Jude Banks (Kamloops), Megan Banks (Wes) (Palmerston) Katharine Murdoch (Greg) (Kitchener) Peter Banks (Jennifer) (Kitchener) and several cousins and grand-nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Reverend George and Grace Banks, his elder brothers George Richard and Robin Kellet, his sister-in-law Rosemary Banks and his former Partner, Eric Donkin.
John was born (November 28, 1939) at home in the Rectory at Erindale, Ontario. He attended Erindale Public. School and Ridley College. In his final year at Ridley he was awarded the Mason Gold Medal. He received an Honours B.A. and an M.A. (Canadian History) at the University of Toronto.
In 1962 he moved to Ottawa, finding employment with the Federal government (Public Archives of Canada, Department of Labour). In 1966 he moved into the Canadian university community serving as Secretary, Universities’ Centennial Program, under the Association of Canadian Universities and Colleges of Canada and then as Executive Secretary for the Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Social Science Research Council of Canada (now Federations).
In 1979 John moved to Stratford and commenced collaboration with actor Eric Donkin. They directed and produced The Wonderfull World of Sarah Binks and Altman’s Last Stand. In 1982 he was asked by the late Brian Macdonald to provide contemporary references for his Gilbert and Sullivan productions of The Mikado, The Gondoliers and Iolanthe. Before retiring in 2002, he worked with Mary Swerdfager Realty.
Throughout his career John maintained an active and eclectic interest in serving his community. Commencing with the Centertown Community Association (Ottawa) and in Stratford with The Gallery Stratford, Friends of the Stratford Public Library, Friends of the Festival, and The Stratford and District Real Estate Board. For the City of Stratford he served as Chair of the City’s Planning Advisory Committee and Chair of the Stratford and Area Visitors’ and Convention Bureau. He was also a Fence Viewer for the City of Stratford.
In 2002 John became President of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) Stratford. Its object was and remains to provide affordable housing and other assistance for senior members of the performing arts community. Through John’s leadership and with much support from the Board of PAL Stratford, the City of Stratford, the Government of Canada and the Stratford community, a PAL Lodge was opened in 2013, providing 5 units of affordable housing.
For nearly 40 years John served as Vice-President and Secretary of the Canadian Ditchley Foundation. Following his retirement in 2008, he was made an Honorary Member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. In 1998 he was presented to Queen Elizabeth and made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the Ditchley Foundation in Canada.
As those who knew him will attest, the foregoing fails to capture the essence of the man. John’s courtly manner, his dedication to the service of others less fortunate than him and his love of his inner circle, when combined with a withering turn of phrase, made him an irreplaceable source of joy and wisdom.
A private interment will he held for immediate family members only. Celebrations of John’s life with his family and many friends and will be scheduled in the near future.
In memory of John and his passion for the organization he did so much to foster, donations may be made to PAL Stratford.
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Stratford, Ontario N5A 5T7
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