Celebration of Life for
James L. Hanks
Presented by Larry Huggins
at Rotary Club meeting on February 23, 2016
So much to celebrate!
Born in southern Illinois on July 1, 1923, Jim died October 26, 2015. He married Bessie Townsend on January 22, 1947; they raised three children.
Jim’s college education at Eastern Illinois was interrupted by three years of military service. Upon returning to Eastern, his people skills and leadership abilities quickly surfaced: he edited the college newspaper, was senior class president and president of Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity. Following a Master’s degree at the University of Illinois, he served rather briefly as a high school assistant principal and then principal, before joining State Farm Insurance in 1952. That 35-year insurance career first took them further south to Alabama and then Louisiana where he and Beth cultivated their southern hospitality. They brought those qualities to Lafayette in 1974 when Jim was named a Regional Vice President to lead State Farm’s new West Lafayette Regional Office. Those roots remained evident in his careful, deliberate speaking style and hint of southern drawl.
Qualities we celebrate: wit, humor, foresight, leadership skills, generosity, a genuine concern for others, plus artistic talents of acting and writing. Using these qualities wisely and effectively, he was able to have a significant impact on the quality of life in this community.
Jim joined Lafayette Rotary in 1976. In addition to leading the growth of the regional State Farm operation, but especially following retirement, he served this community in many ways, often in collaboration with another Rotarian whose life we have celebrated via Jim’s writings, Virgil St. John. Jim’s many community impacts were and are evident in Rotary, First United Methodist Church, Leadership Lafayette, Junior Achievement, United Way, Civic Theater and Westminster Village. His extraordinarily successful leadership resulted from: an enthusiasm and positive outlook, a genuine concern for those he led, a willingness to always give credit to others while personally participating in the work load. In short, he led by example!
Jim provided us a role model that we should all hope to emulate. I hope you were lucky enough to have received one (or several) of his many, many hand-written notes of congratulations for an achievement and/or birthday wish. Those were always signed: Thanks from Hanks. Therefore, it seems only fitting to close our celebration of that exemplary life of leadership and service Jim modeled for us with: