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Joseph 'Bill' Banker, Jr., 81, Woodstock

Joseph William “Bill” Banker Jr. 81, Woodstock, died Thursday, May 26, 2016, at his home. 

He was born July 28, 1934, to Joseph and Margaret (Foran) Banker in Summit. 

On March 17, 1997, he married Lisa Gerloff in Woodstock.

Bill had a varied and interesting life. A gifted pitcher, he was a varsity baseball player all four years at Argo High School. The highlight of his high school career came his senior year when he pitched three innings for the suburban all-stars at Comiskey Park. Following graduation in preparation to go to Yale on a football scholarship, he attended Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, Conn.; he was named to their athletic hall of fame in 1993. He later attended the University of Pennsylvania for a year. 

He was recruited by several major league teams, eventually signing with the New York Yankees in January 1955. He received a $6,000 signing bonus and went to their rookie camp in St. Petersburg, Fla., with Casey Stengel as manager. In spring training with the Triple A Denver Bears, he played with Don Larsen, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, and pitched against Ted Williams.

Drafted into the Army in January 1957, he was stationed at Ft. Chaffee, Ark. He later went to Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Ga., and was commissioned a first lieutenant. He was discharged in 1959 and played one more season of professional baseball.

He entered the banking business and moved to Woodstock in 1963 to manage First Savings and Loan of Woodstock until 1969. He then purchased the Tappan Insurance Agency which was renamed Woodstock Insurance for the next 26 years.

He was an active member of the community. He was one of the first trustees on the McHenry County College Board; an original board member of Easter Seals; and past chairman of the Woodstock Fire and Police Commission. In addition, he was a charter member of the Woodstock Noon Rotary Club and the first treasurer of Christmas Clearing House. He was a past member of the Woodstock Country Club and enjoyed playing in their Calcuttas.

In 1982, he was appointed to the board of directors of The State Bank of Woodstock (now Harris Bank) and served in that capacity for 25 years.

Survivors include his wife; a son, William P. Banker, Camas, Wash.; five daughters, Catherine Banker, Cynthia (Brent) Unmisig, Jeanne (Brent) Dudgeon, all of Quincy; Margaret Banker, Sun Prairie, Wis.; and Ellyn (Rick) Knox, Woodstock; and eight grandchildren Bradley, Bryce and Bailey Unmisig; Alexis Banker; Sydney and Quinn Mueller; and Jordyn and Ethan Knox.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, at Schneider, Leucht, Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home. Visitation will continue from 10 to the 11 a.m. funeral service June 1 at the funeral home. Inurnment will be at Calvary Cemetery, Woodstock.

Memorials may be made to Animal House Shelter, 13005 Ernesti Road, Huntley, IL 60142.


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