Christopher Henry Banner was born April 11, 1942 in Seattle, Washington. He was the oldest child of Albert Henry and Dora Mae (Conrad) Banner. At the age of four his family moved to the Territory of Hawaii for his father’s employment as a Marine Biologist. He remained in Hawaii until he moved to Chicago in 1970 to study Tuba performance with the Chicago Symphony. There he met Betty Ann Becker and they married in 1971. He is survived by Betty and their children Sara and Eric (Emily) and granddaughters Olivia, Julia & Maia. Chris was predeceased by his parents, brother Alan (1971) and brother Robert (1989). He is survived by his sister Catherine Grimaldi of Kaneohe, Hawaii.
Chris and Betty moved to Manhattan, Kansas following their marriage and have lived here since then. Chris was a bright and talented person whose life was complicated by having Asperger’s Syndrome. He loved music and music was central to his life. He received a BA degree from the University of Hawaii in performance music. Later he earned a MA in Music History from KSU. Additionally, he earned a second Master’s degree in Geography from KSU.
He performed in the Honolulu Symphony for six years in the tuba section. He was choir director for the Deerfield Unitarian Church in the early 1970’s. He played tuba and euphonium in the Manhattan City Band from 1975-2010, where he also served on the Band Board. He brought Tuba Christmas to Manhattan, a national event each December, in which tuba and baritone players perform beloved Christmas carols for the community. This event brought together musicians of all ages and from far and wide for many years.
His love of music carried over to his employment. He was the Musical Instrument Specialist for the KSU Music Department, with responsibility for maintaining string, brass, woodwind and keyboard instruments. He also maintained his own musical instrument repair business serving generations of Manhattan area students and professionals. He took an innovative approach to many things. He once converted a banjo from a right-hand instrument to a left-hand one for a customer and he invented a device to protect marching Sousaphones from being dented. This SousaSaver can be seen on the Sousaphones of the KSU Marching Band and marching bands of many colleges across the nation.
He always enjoyed working with his hands across a variety of mediums. In his lifetime he and his wife bought and renovated four homes. He built clocks, furniture, a concrete car and a concrete boat. He road his beloved 1957 R60 BMW motorcycle until he was 76. And he was an avid self-educator, reading and learning, and sharing his learning with all he knew. He even became a reviewer for both the Journal of the West and the Manhattan Mercury in retirement.
Chris was an honest and gentle man who always sought to help others, by fixing something, teaching others the skills to fix things on their own, or just lending a helping hand. He died after an extended struggle with cancer May 7th. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends.
A memorial service in his honor will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan on Saturday June 15th, at 1:30pm. Memorial donations may be made to the Music Scholarship Fund at KSU or the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.