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Howard Donald Banitt, 68, of Cannon Falls

Howard Donald Banitt, 68, of Cannon Falls, died unexpectedly Tuesday morning at his home. Howard was born May 10, 1941, in Red Wing, the son of Donald and Adeline (Groth) Banitt. He graduated from the Cannon Falls High School in 1959.

In 1959, he joined the Naval Air Reserve while still in high school and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1960. In 1960, he switched to the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force sent him to Syracuse University for one year to learn Czech, and he used his skills as a translator while serving in Germany. He was honorably discharged in 1964. Howard got into insurance sales in 1971, and has been employed from 1988 until the present as manager with Leon Mutual Insurance in Cannon Falls. Howard married Judith "Judy" (Gustafson) Wilson on Sept. 28, 1974, at Spring Garden Lutheran Church.

Howard was an active member of the Urland Lutheran Church, where he had served on the church council. He had received the Professional Farm Mutual Manager Award. He had also been a member of the Kraft-Ostrom American Legion Post 142, and had been active in the Cannon Falls Jaycees. Howard loved horses, and enjoyed thoroughbred racing at Canterbury Park. He will be lovingly remembered by his family and friends as a kind and caring gentleman, who would always welcome you with his smile!

He is survived by his wife of nearly 35 years, Judy; their children, Scot of Beldenville, Wis., Alan (Kirstin) of Cannon Falls, Elke Banitt of Elllsworth, Wis., Roxanne Bartell and Rita Vangsness, both of Red Wing; two granddaughters, Sophie Banitt and Emma Vangsness; two great-grandsons, Daniel and Jacob; sisters and brothers, Carol Mitchener of Red Wing, Jerry (Marjorie) of Welch, Richard (Fay) of Sandy Valley, Nev., Mary (Ismael) Toledo of Hastings, and Jeff (Sheri) of Cannon Falls; sister-in-law, Janice Banitt of Cannon Falls; and nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Theodore and Michael; and brother-in-law, Arvel Mitchener.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, with visitation from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Urland Lutheran Church, 6940 Co. 9 Blvd., Cannon Falls, with Pastor Arthur Sharot officiating. Interment with military honors will follow at the church cemetery.

Arrangements by Lundberg Funeral Home in Cannon Falls. Online condolences may be directed to