John Banman, 95, died on November 29th at Kidron Bethel Health Care in North Newton, Kansas. He was born on June 23, 1918 in Canton, Kansas to Jacob and Helen (Pankratz) Banman.
John, a graduate of Newton High School, attended Bethel College for one year prior to completing his Bachelor’s degree at Wichita University in 1940. Two years later he received the first master’s degree given in clarinet performance from Northwestern University. While serving as a medic in the Army, he performed with various military music ensembles. John, an honored music educator, taught in Kansas for over 65 years in Clearwater, Ellinwood, and Great Bend Kansas. John was a woodwind instructor at Fort Hays State Summer Band Camp for over 20 years. After retirement he gave private lessons in Hesston and Newton.
Throughout his career, John continued to perform and arrange music. From the 1940s until his retirement he was a fine jazz saxophonist performing with musicians across Kansas and beyond. Upon retirement in Harvey County, John returned to classical music performing with the Mid-Kansas Orchestra, various Bethel College groups, in local churches and in recitals with local musicians.
John was member of Bethel College Mennonite Church and beloved member of the Kidron Health Care community where his music and humor provided a lift to many. He was a dear friend, teacher, father and husband and will be remembered for his generosity of spirit and a life well-lived. When asked recently by W. Nugent about advice for living good long life he said: “Try to think of something you can do to make this a good world.”
He is survived by his children: daughter, Nancy Banman and spouse, Stanley J. Scott, and son, Paul Banman and spouse, Robin Avery. He was preceded in death by: his wife, Iris (Wetz) Banman; father and mother, Jacob and Helen Banman; and brothers Paul and Anton Banman and sister Katherine Mason.
A memorial service will be held at a later time at Bethel College Mennonite Church. The John Banman Memorial Fund has been set up for the Bethel College Music Department.