Nature 28

Allen William Banbury

June 29, 1937 ~ January 11, 2024 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Allen Banbury Obituary

Allen Banbury June 25, 1937 – January 11, 2024

Devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.  

Allen was born in Pasadena, CA to Elmer and Merriam Banbury, where he grew up surrounded by family in the changing landscape of southern California during and after WWII.  His love of teaching came from his mother Miriam and passion for building and making things from his father Elmer.  He met Lorilla during a ski trip to Colorado when he was 18 and she was 15 and they have been together ever since.  He volunteered in the Naval Reserves and served in Vietnam.  After his service, he and Lorilla stayed in Hawaii where he had been stationed while he earned his bachelors degree from the University of Hawaii.

Together they adventured far and wide on countless cross-country trips, first with backpacks and tent and later a pop-up camper with their children Michelle and Lory. During retirement they graduated to a 5th wheel trailer, towing it to New Orleans for Jazz fest and through Canada and Michigan, stopping at as many National parks as they could see along the way.  He had a lifelong affections for animals and cars, and was known to give funny names to both.

Allen was always fascinated by the natural world, especially geology and loved learning about the passage of time through rock formations.  He was ridiculously handy.  He once rebuilt the transmission on an old Volvo wagon in his parents’ garage during a cross country trip.  Another summer he framed, sheetrocked and wired the empty attic of their house, converting it into living space.  His curiosity ranged far and wide from the workings of the human body to the physics of flight and sound.  You name it, he could explain it.  

He loved a good pun and had astonishing vocabulary.  He had a marvelous collection of signature expressions like “Old age ain’t for sissies” which he often repeated these last few years.  His unending curiosity about the mechanics of the world was a key part of his positive outlook living with cancer.  He loved discussing the various systems of the body and the ways in which “they weren’t behaving as the manufacturer intended” with physicians and lay people alike.

Allen was an ardent proponent of giving back to his community, especially through volunteering.  In addition to helping friends whenever he could, he was very active in the Methodist Church in Narberth where Michelle and Lory were raised.  In Vermont, he worked with advanced mathematics students at Twinfield School, helped with the Marshfield Food Shelf and contributed his construction expertise to the Plainfield Coop building committee.  He was on the Marshfield Conservation Commission and loved working on their annual plant sale.  He also served as a board member for the Friends of the Winooski River and was part of the first group to canoe the entire length on the Winooski Sojourn.

Allen was very musical and played piano, ukulele and the spoons among other instruments.  He was known for his beautiful tenor voice and sang for many years with his church choir and later with a hospice choir he helped found in honor of a friend who died of cancer.  

His love of nature informed his diligent stewardship of the 180 acres he and Lorilla bought in Marshfield where he waged a tireless war against invasive honeysuckle and always enjoyed an excuse to get out on the tractor.  Perhaps his biggest act of service was helping Lorilla set up and troubleshoot her collection of weaving looms for 40+ years.  

After teaching at a private school in Colorado for several years, Allen moved east to Philadelphia to the innovative Teacher Learning Center focused on exciting young children about math, something which he excelled at.  He taught for 30 years in Philadelphia public schools, choosing to continue teaching in the classroom instead of administration, and he was a proud union member when it came time to strike for better conditions for teachers and students.  He made the most of summers off traveling, and later making weekly pilgrimages to a campground in Cape May, New Jersey, one of his favorite places.

One of his most lasting legacies will be the numerous family and friends who were welcomed into Allen and Lorilla’s home in times of need or transition, providing a supportive adoptive family and a nurturing place to gather oneself before setting out again into the world.  He was a beacon welcoming people into a warm circle of stories and joy and companionship.  

We will greatly miss the sincere, gentle way he cared for others.  He never saw the world through rose colored glasses (partly because he was color blind and didn’t really see pink), but neither was he cynical.  He was honest, but never mean.  He didn’t really gossip or complain -- which was not to say he didn’t have opinions -- yet even as he lamented the ways things were obviously falling apart, he accepted the world as it was and quietly went about making it better in the ways he could.  

Allen is survived by his wife of 65 years, Lorilla, daughter Michelle Kearney and her husband Padraig, daughter Lorraine Banbury and partner Shaun Flaskamper, son outlaw Bradley Materick and his wife Elizabeth, grandchildren Saoirse and Will Kearney, sister Carol Darwin, and many treasured nieces and nephews.  He is predeceased by his brother Robert Banbury and his parents Elmer and Merriam Banbury.  

He will be buried in a private family service at his home in Marshfield, and there will be a public celebration of life this June.  Please contact his daughter, Lorraine for information about a Celebration of Life that will be held in the summer. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice: https://www.cvhhh.org/

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