EXCHANGE: 1960s policeman takes ride through East Galesburg
EAST GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) — Friends, family, caretakers, police and firefighters came together in East Galesburg on a Friday afternoon to celebrate former police officer and volunteer firefighter Richard Banks with a ceremonial “last ride.”
The procession included a classic 1960s police car, East Galesburg police vehicles, several civilian vehicles, and a firetruck with Banks in the passenger seat. Police and the firetruck ran their lights, and cars let their hazard lights blink in Banks’ honor.
Family told The Register-Mail that the aim of the event was to realize a dream of sorts for the man, who is in hospice care at the Marigold Rehabilitation & Health Care Center.
Banks, who served in East Galesburg back in the ’60s, was born there in 1935 and raised in the city that was then known as Randall. After his time in the force, he relocated to Galesburg, where he worked at multiple places as a laborer before retiring.
In his time as a firefighter, Banks fought notable fires from Galesburg and East Galesburg’s history. He was called in as backup when Sunnyside School in Galesburg was on fire. He also fought a notable fire on State and Main streets in East Galesburg, which resulted in the building burning down.
Decked out in a cap with a firefighting logo and wearing his original firefighter and police deputy badges, Banks waved hello to well-wishers on his last ride, which began at the Iron Eagle Harley Davidson store and ended at East Galesburg’s Village Hall. Banks, who has suffered multiple strokes, didn’t have very much to say, but was in good spirits.
“When he drove through East Galesburg, we got to see places we used to live,” said Marsha Pedigo, one of Banks’ daughters. “This is where he was born and raised.”
The fire department even awarded Banks with an honorary fire chief badge. Banks is a strong traditionalist, who doesn’t believe in wearing badges if not in service. He wore the badges, however, as an honorary gesture of the departments.
“They let him run the siren in the firetruck several times,” Pedigo said. “They had to coax him at first, but then he really liked it.”
According to Pedigo, the last ride was the work of Harbor Light Hospice nurse Susan Cunningham, who takes care of Banks at the Marigold. She said hearing Banks’ daily stories about his time serving in East Galesburg spurred her to organize the ride.
“We wanted to do something special to honor what he’s done for the community,” Cunningham said. After calling East Galesburg Police Chief Jack Harlan, the ride was quickly organized in part via Facebook. Some folks, like Bob Dewitt, who took Banks back to the Marigold in his 1960s police car, had only decided to come by on the day of the ride.
Source: The (Galesburg) Register-Mail, https://bit.ly/2FrcjT9
Information from: The Register-Mail, http://www.register-mail.com