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As It Was: Elmer Bankus Sustains and Improves Brookings, Ore.

Elmer Bankus was a land developer, businessman, and philanthropist who rebuilt the Brookings community after its mainstay employer, the C & O lumber mill, shut down in 1925.

Bankus first worked with a local agent to liquidate the lumber company’s holdings, then he bought C & O’s remaining assets for $12,000 in 1936, equivalent to more than $240,000 today.

Over 37 years, he became sole owner of the Brookings Water Company, Brookings Redi-mix Co., and the Brookings Land & Townsite Co.  He bought the city sewer system, modernizing it to the highest standards, and helped expand the region’s lily bulb industry.

His methods were sometimes controversial, but Bankus was also a generous benefactor.  He funded numerous scholarships and contributed 80 acres of Redwood forest for Boy Scout use.  He donated sites for a nursing home, a library, the Presbyterian church, and Azalea Park.

In honor of his efforts to sustain and improve the Oregon Coast’s southernmost city, the high school named its athletic arena the Elmer Bankus Field.

A “Bankus Fountain” runs ever-flowing in a small park located at Highway 101 and Fifth Street.

Source: Schroeder, Walt. Characters, Legends and Mysteries of Curry County, Oregon. Curry Historical Society, 2007, pp. 51-53.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.