Lawrence Reginald "Rex" Bannister, well-known fluorite collector, was born in Sentinel, Oklahoma on May 21, 1923, the son of Mary Louise Johnson and James Rufus Bannister, the manager of a cotton gin. Rex served in the U.S. Army Air Corp during World War II, then attended the University of Oklahoma where he earned his BS Degree in Geological Engineering. He spent most of his professional career working for the Laclede Gas Company in St. Louis, serving as First Superintendent for underground gas storage, and eventually rising to the position of vice president before retiring in 1985.
Rex was a regular at the major mineral shows, and collected specimens from localities worldwide, but he specialized in specimens from the Illinois-Kentucky fluorite district, especially Cave-in-Rock. Fluorite district specimens were readily available on the market and relatively reasonably priced in the 1970s-1980s, before the mines closed. He would often take trips through the fluorite district, buying from local dealers who got their specimens directly from the miners. He would sometimes purchase large lots and resell the unwanted portions to help finance his purchases. His collection was thus limited in scope but high in aesthetic quality, representing the products from the various mines and the minerals that were being produced at the time.
In 1978 Rex sold 70 of his best cabinet-size specimens to the Harvard Mineralogical Museum on the condition that the group would remain intact as the "L. Rex and Julia Bannister Collection" (a stipulation that most museums, including Harvard, would no longer accept today). A year later he donated 40 more specimens to the Harvard collection, and sold his miniature-size pieces through a dealer. Since that time Harvard curator Carl Francis has acquired another 200 fluorite-district specimens from other sources and added them to the suite.
Rex and his wife retired to Lake of the Ozarks in 1985, and although he kept in occasional contact with his mineral friends and attended the Tucson Show a few times, his collecting interests in retirement shifted to antique fishing lures.
Rex married three times: his first wife, Margaret Alice Trimble, is the mother of his three daughters; his second wife, Julia Detroy, he commemorated in the naming of his collection at Harvard; and his third wife, Sharon Spicer, was with him when he died on February 27, 2010 in Iberia, Missouri.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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||Specimens from localities worldwide that Rex Bannister exhibited at the 1974 Detroit Show. Included are a Brazilian topaz, Elk Creek barite, Tsumeb dioptase, Tsumeb azurite, Tsumeb malachite pseudomorph, Spanish pyrite, Los Lamentos wulfenite, Poona green apophyllite, Ojuela adamite, Trepca vivianite, Sicilian sulfur, Kongsberg silver, Panasqueira cassiterite, Hotazel rhodochrosite, and a Musonoi torbernite, among others. |