Paul Banks (custodian)
Paul Banks is a former employee of the Homer, Alaska school system, in whose honor a school where he worked as custodian was renamed Homer Banks Elementary in his honor.
Banks arrived in Homer in 1941 as a homesteader and resided on the east end of the bluff above the town. Banks was a World War II veteran who cared for horses during part of his tour, and was with the Army in the Battle of Normandy. After the war, Banks was the main writer and composer for school performances at the then East Homer Elementary, which he helped to build. In later years, Banks became the custodian of the school. Children came to know Paul for the peanuts he carried in his pocket, always ready to hand them out to any child. Paul painted many items in the school red, white and blue. Many people thought he was very patriotic but what they didn't know was that he was color blind and used colors that he could see! In all, he worked for Homer area schools for twenty-one years.
Mr. Banks was so well loved by the community of Homer and especially by the parents and students of East Homer Elementary that they petitioned to rename the school, Paul Banks Elementary, upon his retirement in 1982.
The legacy of Paul Banks lives on at Paul Banks Elementary where former student of then East Homer Elementary and current teacher at Paul Banks Elementary, Jennifer Reinhart still shares lily bulbs that came from Paul Banks’ homestead. She reminisces in a letter sent home with her Kindergarten students of the music and kindness that Paul Banks brought to the school.
In an anecdote recounted in the Paul Banks Songbook, a fellow citizen of Homer recalls: "Of course, with every telling of this particular story, there was a whimsical, 'I remember the time. . .' and some wild adventure ensued. It always made me wish I had been there too because, as he would tell his tale, there would always be a twinkle in his eye. That was Paul. A twinkle in his eye, a smile and always a good story.".
Paul founded a band called The Homer Hoedowners. He played honky tonk piano and accordion. His band played for 15 years at dances, weddings, parties, dinners and many special events. They played every New Year's Eve at a local bar and during one of those parties as the party goers danced at midnight to a rousing tune, the walls of the building moved in and out as the dancers jumped up and down! After that New Year's Eve the band was asked to play quiet songs at midnight.
Paul Banks is immortalized in name at Paul Banks Elementary, but his songs and stories continue to weave themselves into the patchwork history of Homer, Alaska.
- Dorothy R. Cline, ed. (2001). Paul Banks Songbook. p. 27.
- Cathy Stingley, preschool teacher at the school
- Remembering Paul Banks. Homer, Alaska. 1988.
- Reinhart, Jennifer. Story of the Lilly Bulbs Homer, Alaska.
- Paul Banks Elementary school homepage