A Farewell to Harold "Banny" R. Bannister

Posted by Sandy Sweet on Nov 23 2009 at 04:00PM PST
Harold R. Bannister Lt. Col., ARMOR Ret., “Banny” age 94, of Bristol, died November 23, 2009. He was the husband of the late Mary (Street) Bannister. Born in Fall River, a son of the late James E. and Catherine (Manning) Bannister, he resided in Fall River during his youth, lived in Swansea for 25 years, moving to Bristol in 1971. 
Mr. Bannister was a retired Math and Science Teacher having taught at the Talbot School in Fall River for many years. Prior to that, he worked for several years as a sales representative for Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Fall River. He was past president and on the board of directors of the Fall River Life Underwriters Assn., and state secretary and director of the MA Life Underwriters Assn.

A communicant of St. Mary’s Church in Bristol, he had served as an usher and lector and was on the Board of Directors of the Bristol Interfaith Choir. While living in Fall River, he was a communicant of St. Joseph’s Church and while in Swansea, St. Dominic’s and Our Lady of Fatima. 

Educated in Fall River schools, he was a graduate of BMC Durfee High School, Class of 1932 and was a member of the state champion tennis team. He continued his studies at Bradford Durfee Textile Institute, Class of 1935 and was a member of its baseball, soccer and tennis teams. A 1968 graduate with a Textile Engineering degree from SMU – now UMASS-Dartmouth, he was a member of the tennis team and participated in the NAIA nationals for 3 years.

A US Army Veteran serving in World War II, he was drafted in 1941 and commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in 1942. He served with the First City Troop of Philadelphia-a part of the 104th Cavalry- and later joined the 7th US Cavalry, First Cavalry division during the Admiralty Islands Campaign. Present at the invasion of Leyte and later Luzon, he participated in the then famous race to Manila to capture that city. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, four battle stars with “V” device and other campaign ribbons. Honorably discharged in 1946, he then served in various assignments and retired as Lieutenant Colonel in 1968.

Well known as an outstanding tennis player throughout the South Coast area, he was a Greater Fall River doubles champion, past president and member of the Board of Directors of the Fetherdic Tennis Club, and coached the BMC Durfee High School and SMU Tennis Teams for many years. He was also an instructor at the Dartmouth Indoor Tennis Club with the late professional, Jerry Aillery.
An avid skier and longtime member of the Fall River Ski Club, he skied in all of the major areas of the US, South America and Europe.

Mr. Bannister was a life member of the YMCA of Fall River, a member and secretary of the MA Life Insurance and the Reserve Officers of New England Associations, and a member and past president of the Swansea Volunteer Fire Department. He had also been vice president and trustee of the LeBaron Colt Ambulance Corps in Bristol.
A boating enthusiast, he was a member of the Coasters Yacht Club in Newport, RI, the Bristol Yacht Club, member and past commodore of Walker’s Island Yacht Club in Bristol. He was a life member of the Republican Party and the Republican National Congressional Club.  

A local philanthropist, Mr. Bannister was a volunteer fireman and made generous donations to both the Bristol Police and Fire Departments and to educational, marine and historical museums.  Known throughout his life as a good friend to all, he was a frequent and familiar diner at the Lobster Pot Restaurant in Bristol where he was referred to as its “unofficial ambassador” sharing close friendship with the entire staff who were especially caring and kind to him.

His family and friends wish to thank the wonderful people at HealthTouch who provided “Banny” with loving care during his last few months.

In addition to his many friends, he is survived by several nieces and nephews.  He was brother of the late Howard W., James, Edward, and Mildred Ann Bannister and Catherine Bannister Lareau.

His Funeral Mass will be held Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 10:00 AM in  St. Mary’s Church 330 Wood St. Bristol, RI. Visiting hours Tuesday 2-4 in the WARING-SULLIVAN HOME OF MEMORIAL TRIBUTE AT BIRCHCREST, 189 Gardners Neck Rd. (No. of Rt 6 Intersection) Swansea. Burial in Juniper Hill Cemetery in Bristol. For tributes and directions


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