December 29, 1938 – March 23, 2021
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
“Heaven has another angel this evening. Carol, we will miss you.”
With those words, Steve Keefe – the owner/broker of Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty, where Carol Banner was an agent for decades – shared the news of the Deer Lodge Park resident’s passing.
Carol Banner was born in Burbank and was raised in La Cañada. Her family had purchased a cabin in Crest Estates so Carol would spend her summers on the mountain.
“Her Mom, Peggy, would take Carol and her sister, Susie, swimming in Lake Arrowhead,” Carol’s husband, Duane, said. “She swam in the beautiful waters of Lake Arrowhead for over 70 years.”
As Carol got older, she worked at Santa’s Village, running the train ride. “She was an engineer,” Duane said.
Carol and Duane met when his dump truck developed mechanical problems in Deer Lodge Park, near the home Carol’s mother had bought. Peggy sent Carol out with a beer for Duane – he recalls she was wearing a two-piece bathing suit “with a shirt over it.” Soon thereafter the couple had their first date – dinner at The Antlers.
They were married on Oct. 2, 1966, at the Lake Arrowhead Community Presbyterian Church. “Billie (Weiss, the church’s late organist) played us down the aisle,” Duane said. They bought their home in Deer Lodge Park in 1971.
The Banners’ three children – Allison, Zachary and Beth – were all born at Mountains Community Hospital.
When Duane bought his first backhoe in 1966, it was only natural that Carol would run the office while he did the labor.
Much of Carol’s life in the 1970s and early 1980s revolved around the children. She was elected to the Rim of the World Unified School District board of trustees, serving as its president. She and Duane both coached soccer as all three children were involved.
It wasn’t only her own children who concerned her. While on the school board, she did not like the fact there was nowhere for children who had been expelled to go but the streets. “She started Rim Family Services,” Beth said. “There was a program there for the kids that eventually got them back in school – got them back on track.”
Carol was also instrumental in getting the money to put the measure on the ballot that led to the creation of the Rim of the World Recreation and Park District.
In the mid-1980s, Dick Farrell – who owned Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty at the time – approached Carol. “He was the driving force behind her getting into real estate,” Beth said. “He told her she knew the area, knew the schools, loved Lake Arrowhead, that she was the perfect person to sell real estate.”
With her passion for the community and her care for her clients, Carol became a champion for private property rights. She started the Government Affairs Committee through the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce. As the chamber said in a tribute to its first and only lifetime member, “The GAC meeting became one of the most successful community meetings in the mountains. We continue to carry the torch to hold monthly meetings because that is part of the legacy Carol wanted – a forum for the community to come together to discuss current events and solutions.”
Those meetings were attended by representatives of local organizations and agencies as well as by representatives of all the elected officials who serve the Lake Arrowhead communities.
“Mom loved the politics part of it,” Beth said, adding that Carol would travel to Sacramento every year to lobby for private property rights.
“When California smog got real bad,” Allison said, “Mom called (Rep.) Jerry Lewis. He wrote the first clean air act. Mom said the smog was starting to kill the pine needles. ‘It’s going to get my babies,’ she said.”
Carol was active close to home, serving as secretary of the Deer Lodge Park property owners association. She would organize a meeting in the backyard every year and bring in key speakers on local issues like roads and insurance.
If there’s one thing everyone knew about Carol Banner it’s that she loved being in and on the water. She would swim every morning before work, Zach said. “She’d jump into the lake, swim, then go to work.” Waterskiing started at 7 a.m. – she would meet her good friend John Wood to catch the smooth, early morning glass – but Carol would swim before that.
Zach recalled his mother getting chased by beavers one time. “They didn’t like her being there!”
Carol was also a strong advocate for music on the mountain, supporting the Arrowhead Arts Association and going to The Tudor House to hear Bruce Rubio and his jazz band play.
Rubio repaid that support by playing his saxophone for her at her house while she was undergoing treatment for her cancer. Carol was also serenaded out on her patio by the bell choir from the Lake Arrowhead Community Presbyterian Church. And, when she was in Mountains Community Hospital for several days, two violists played for her outside her window.
“It felt like we were back in Italy,” Duane said. In addition to that trip, he and Carol had enjoyed a Danube River cruise. They had tickets to go to Scotland and Ireland when COVID-19 hit.
But it was Lake Arrowhead that she loved and that was home. “She loved the depth of relationships that people have up here,” Allison said. “And she loved the lake, the water itself. She loved being in the water.”
Carol was surrounded by family as her time drew to a close. Beth came from North Carolina and Zach traveled down from the Sacramento area. Two weeks before her death, her three grandchildren – Zoie, 16, Macie, 14, and Lucas, 12 – came to spend time with her. “She was well enough to appreciate their visit,” Allison said. “It meant a lot to her.”
Zach recalled all the summer visits he and his wife, Stacey, and the children made to Lake Arrowhead. “We’d go to the lake, which Mom loved. The kids would be in kayaks and Mom would be swimming.”
He added that Carol always encouraged his children to read. And she fostered their interest in music, buying Zoie a clarinet, an instrument both she and Macie play. Lucas is studying the trombone.
“They remember their grandmother showing up for the holidays with her red lipstick. She’d kiss their cheeks and they’d have to wipe it off,” Zach said. That lipstick also came into play on wine glasses. Zach said his children remember Carol picking up whichever wine glass was the fullest. “Then everyone’s glass would have red lipstick on it,” he said.
Two years ago, Zach, his family and Carol and Duane went to Maui together. There they all enjoyed snorkeling. Zach thought he’d have to corral his children “but it was Mom I’d have to chase down,” he said. She still found time, he noted, to be on her phone and conduct some business.
Carol also got to see some good friends in the last few days. The agents from Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty paraded by her house in their cars, honking their horns, holding up signs and balloons. And several of her “gal pals” came to visit, Allison said. “They were such an integral part of my Mom’s life.”
Beth recalled a prayer her Mom often said: “Keep us ever mindful of the needs of others.” “She wanted to make the world a better place for everybody,” Beth said, pointing to Carol’s work with Christmas in April, Rim Family Services, soccer and so much more.
“One of my favorite things to do when I came to visit was to hang out with her on the porch, then walk around the yard. Mom would say, ‘Let’s go say hello to the day.’”
Carol was also a good mentor and role model to other real estate agents. Theresa Grant, president of the Rim O’ The World Association of Realtors, recalled being a new Realtor with a newborn and being elected to the association’s board.
“After serving my term, I stepped away from leadership because I wanted to focus my time on my son.” When that son entered high school, Carol “pinned me with a very direct look and all she said to me was, ‘It’s time.’ She walked me through everything I needed to know for leadership…. There is no way to fill her shoes. She gave her time, she gave her smile, she gave her knowledge, she gave her dry and direct guidance, she volunteered and spearheaded so many organizations.
“Rest well, CB. You did good, kid,” Grant wrote in a tribute on Facebook.
Realtor Virginia Paleno shared in an email to Allison that “I admired how kind and generous Carol was to the people and Realtors up here. She set the bar for all of us.”
One of those Realtors she set the bar for is her own daughter Allison, who joined her at Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty three years ago. “We became the ultimate Banner Team,” Allison said. She will continue to carry that team.
“We want to give kudos to Mountains Community Hospital,” said Duane. “We appreciate how they and Dr. Martin treated her.” Allison added that Dr. Martin had stayed up all night one night, researching the best care for Carol.
“He went above and beyond for us. He and Mom had a special bond. He is so compassionate,” Allison said.
The family will plan a celebration of Carol’s life in the future. They ask that, in lieu of flowers, people send donations to the Mountains Community Hospital Foundation in Carol’s memory.