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Burt Banks was born in Provo, Utah – the sixth of twelve children. Having lost the family farm in Idaho his family moved to Southern California when he was three years old. The trip from Utah to California took five days. They purchased a small lot in Bell Gardens and for three years lived in two surplus WW1 army tents. In 1940 they finished building their modest 900 square foot three-bedroom, one-bathroom home. Burt’s father, Burtrude Earl Banks, passed away in 1941 leaving his mother Luceil with eight children still living at home.
After graduating from Montebello High School at the age of 17, Burt immediately went to work to help support the family working in a factory manufacturing precision gauges for the military.
Burt served in World War II as a parachute packing specialist in the China Burma India theatre. Following the war Burt enrolled at East Los Angeles Jr. College and earned his degree in Economics at USC. Burt was the first member of his family to graduate from college. He married Lillian Pauline Wilder and they were blessed with a daughter – Janene. For many years Burt worked for 3M Company as a sales representative in Northern California. His customers appreciated his easy going selling style and aversion to over-selling. Burt enrolled at USF night school and earned his law degree in 1966.
Following law school Burt went to work for the State Board of Equalization in Sacramento. His enthusiastic admiration for Ronald Reagan began during Reagan’s service as governor of California. Burt worked as legal counsel and as an Administrative Law Judge for the Public Utilities Commission of California. He remained active in his law career until he reached his early 70’s.
Burt was passionate about his alma mater - USC, family, politics, golf and his faith. Burt loved to do everything with his family except camp and eat pancakes. The Army and his years living in those cramped Army tents killed any lingering desire for those activities. Burt loved his grandchildren and great grandchildren and will be sorely missed by them. In the last few years Burt joined efforts with his grandson – James Littlejohn – to act out “How to” videos on You Tube as Mr. Forthright on such diverse subjects as “How to break out of a nursing home” and “How to deliver a baby”. You could often find Burt wearing his tam and flipping through his smart phone showing photos of his grandchildren to any captive audience.
Burt was a humble selfless man. His strength was fired in the difficult years of the depression, his resolve to raise his daughter as a single parent, his faith in his savior Jesus Christ and his love for others. He deflected praise and embraced opportunities to serve others. His enthusiasm for his family was contagious and palpable. His stories of the war and his life are infused with his wit and his humility.
Burt will be missed by so many wonderful people. Nancy SooHoo has been Burt’s treasured companion for more than 30 years. Burt became a “grandfather” to Nancy’s grandchildren and loved them as his own.
Burt is survived by his daughter Janene Littlejohn (Lance) and step-daughter Pamela Purlinsky; his grandchildren Lauren Noakes (Adam), James Littlejohn (Amanda) and Alison Adamson (Brian) and great grandchildren: Aubrey, Clara and Gwen Noakes, Benjamin and Sonora Littlejohn, and Luke Adamson. His brothers Willard and Norman and his sisters Alice, Esther, Clarice and Ardis pre-deceased him. His surviving siblings are: Leon, Bobby, Lewis, Roland and Mildred.
Burt will be buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier CA on February 24th at 3pm. A memorial service will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2949 Stone Valley Road, Danville, CA 94526 at 10:30 am on March 3rd.