The College of Eastern Utah in Price posthumously bestowed a Distinguished Alumni Award to James W. Banasky at its annual Founder's Day Banquet, Saturday, March 9.
"We're honoring Jim for a lifetime of dedicated service to the college that will be sorely missed," said CEU President Michael A. Petersen.A 1953 graduate of the college, Banasky served as student-body president during his sophomore year. In December of that year, the Utah Legislature approved a plan to close the college as a budget-cutting measure. Local residents immediately initiated a signature drive for a referendum that would allow the state's voters to decide the issue.
As a junior at the University of Utah, Banasky was a driving force in the signature drive in Salt Lake County. According to the Feb. 18, 1954, edition of The Sun Advocate, "James Banasky . . . probably turned in the largest number of signatures by any single person in the state. He worked in Salt Lake County, and his efforts are reflected in the extra margin of signatures above the amount needed for that area." Banasky turned in 18,409 signatures supporting the college, nearly 4,000 more than required by state law for the county.
Besides Banasky, CEU also presented Distinguished Alumni Awards to Harry Halamandaris, president of Teledyne Systems Inc.in Los Angeles; and Gregg Passic, the chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Financial Investigations Division in Washington, D.C.
The college also presented Eagle Awards to seven directors of the CEU Foundation: Walter Axelgard, former Utah industrial commissioner; Banasky; John Craven, owner of Craven Auto Parts; Richard Lee, chairman of Elbert Lowdermilk, Inc.; Richard Tatton, owner of Tatton Insurance; George Hatsis, a Salt Lake dentist; and Carbon County Commissioner John Garr.