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Dr. Paul Bankit, 87, left this world on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 for a much more glorious place. His life can hardly be summed up in the space it takes to write this obituary.
Paul’s accomplishments were many. He received his Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin; his masters from University of Nebraska and his doctorate from Michigan State University.
Paul joined the U.S. Army in May 1953, and his basic training took place at Gary Air Force Base in Texas. Paul served three tours in Vietnam. He was a pioneer in Army aviation and was one of the very first master aviators. He was a chief test pilot of the Joint Services. He commanded the Transportation Engineering Agency in Newport News. Paul retired from the Army as a colonel at HQ TRADOC, Fort Monroe, on August 31, 1978.
Paul received many accolades while serving our armed forces that included: Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal – three awards, Meritorious Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army of Occupation Medal in Germany, National Defense Service Medal with one OLC Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars (three combat tours), Reserve Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Pa 1m-unit, Master Army Aviator Badge, Valorous Unity Award and Meritorious Unit Commendation.
One of his three grandson’s summed his life up best. “You were a successful inventor, businessman and entrepreneur, Michigan State professor, big-wig at Embry Riddle, and a military colonel and pilot. You taught me to balance your checkbook and finances by the time I was 10 years old, that a real Manhattan on the rocks was the way to go by the age of 11, and what a true work ethic meant by the age of 14. You also taught an appreciation for the finer things in life like your fantastic taste in cars. Most importantly, you quietly gave to those in need, without accolade, and helped me realize how a real man should contribute to the world.”
Paul loved his life and those around him. He was a teacher at heart and a professor at three major universities and even became the provost of Embry Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Fla.
One of Paul’s favorite times of the year was Thanksgiving. He would always take the juiciest looking turkey leg and his place at the head of the table. After his holiday meals, he loved football, basketball or golf on TV, especially if he was cheering on the Green Bay Packers or Michigan State Spartans. For years, Paul and his late wife, Judy, had tickets at the Indy 500 race every year. He loved fast cars, planes and owned numerous planes in his life.
Paul was an entrepreneur at heart. One of his greatest accomplishments was a company he started called Real Selenium. The first U.S. and Canada patented product of its kind to orally dose champion pull and race horses with selenium in their daily food supply versus injection.
In the last five years, Paul was still active with the James City County Registrar, his church, his business and his attempt to launch a Christian College.
When asked at any time during his life the question: “How are you Paul?” a quick response would come forth: “Great!” Even until the day before his death on Tuesday, June 21, he was giving a thumbs up when asked the same question.
Paul will be missed by his children, Eric and April Bankit, Bruce and Paula Patty and Wade and Lisa Trump; grandchildren, Chris (Iveylee), Mitchell and Jessica Trump, Paul (Chrissy) Giovannoli, Chelsea Reedy and Jordan Bankit; and great-grandchild, August Trump.
One last good thought to finish with is this: On June 16 at Dominion Village Senior Living Facility, Paul celebrated his 86th birthday with family and friends. His daughter, Paula, flew from California and his son, Eric, from Pennsylvania, along with his granddaughters, Jessica and Chelsea, his son, Wade, and daughter-in-law, Lisa, were all there to witness something he had wanted for months, his family in one place celebrating life together.
Life’s too precious to waste. Now that Paul is gone, he will be truly missed, especially around the holidays which he so dearly loved. Enjoy the great benefits of heaven as you now have your new set of legs, lungs, heart and eternal life.
Friends and family will gather to remember Paul from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 8, at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Road, Williamsburg, where services will also be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 9. Interment will follow in Williamsburg Memorial Park.
In honor of Dr. Bankit, memorial contributions may be made to Jamestown Christian Fellowship, 5306 Olde Towne Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188; or New Town United Methodist Church, 5209 Monticello Ave., Williamsburg, VA 23188.
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