James Edwin “Jim” Banks was born to Thelma (Thompson) and Edwin N. Banks on May 27, 1930, in Fort Morgan, Colorado. He grew up there and in small towns in western Nebraska, until the family moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, when he was in the 7th grade. He graduated from Cheyenne Central High School in 1947. He started college at what is now the University of Northern Colorado, then transferred to Stanford University at the beginning of his junior year. He graduated from Stanford in 1951 with a B.S. in Chemistry, subsequently receiving M.S and Ph D. degrees in Chemistry there.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant after Air Force ROTC training, he next went on active duty as a nuclear research officer at Kirtland Air Force Base. In 1958 he received a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Delft, the Netherlands. He returned in 1959 as an instructor in chemistry at the brand-new Air Force Academy.
In 1961, he married Anne Woolfenden, whom he had met at Stanford, in Carmel, California. They remained at the Air Force Academy until 1968, when Jim became an exchange professor at the Philippine Military Academy. While there, they enjoyed travels to Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Nepal.
Returning to the Academy in 1970, they remained until1972, when Jim was transferred to Montana State University as Commander of its Air Force ROTC detachment. They had originally intended to return to Colorado on Jim’s retirement from the Air Force in 1975, but enjoyed Bozeman so much they remained here.
Recruited by former colleagues at the Academy, Jim worked for Bechtel Corporation’s training and education department in the new industrial city of Jubail, Saudi Arabia, where Anne joined him from 1979-1982.
They returned again to Bozeman, where Jim worked as a tax preparer, first for H and R Block, then for Gallatin Valley Tax Services
In Bozeman he served on the City- County Planning Board, the Zoning Commission and the Board of Adjustment for several years.
A life-long Episcopalian, Jim was a faithful member of St. James Episcopal Church.
He joined a Boy Scout troop as a boy in Cheyenne and continued his interest in Scouting into adulthood, becoming the Scoutmaster of the Air Force Academy’s first Scout troop and of a new troop in Saudi Arabia. He also participated in and became an instructor in the Boy Scouts’ adult outdoor leadership training Wood Badge program, and was proud of receiving Scouting’s prestigious Silver Beaver award.
He was an avid backpacker and mountain climber, climbing all of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, several of them more than once, as well as Mt. Fuji in Japan and Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.
He was also a runner, a founding member of Bozeman’s Big Sky Wind Drinkers and editor of its monthly newsletter for many years. He participated in the Bridger Ridge run several times, at least once its oldest finisher.
He is survived by his wife, Anne, his sister-in-law Joyce Spence and brother-in-law James Woolfenden, cousin Ann Fleenor and several other cousins and nephews.
The family thanks the health care partners at Highgate Senior Living’s Chalet memory care facility for their compassionate service to Jim.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Bozeman Public Library, the Gallatin Valley Land Trust or a charity of one’s choice.
A Funeral Service will be held Thursday at 1PM at St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman.