In Memoriam: Sigitas “Sy” Banaitis
Sigitas “Sy” Banaitis, a lifetime member of the Heart of Oak Society, died Feb 09, 2021, at age 84. He was born in Lithuania in 1936 and was the grandson to Saliamonas Banaitis, who was one of the signatories for Lithuanian independence. Banaitis’ family escaped Lithuania when World War II broke out, taking with them what little belongings they could in a horse drawn wagon. He lived in a German refugee camp with his family from 1945 to 1950 and continued his studies.
In 1950, Banaitis and his family immigrated into the United States. The family eventually settled in Chicago, Ill., where he finished high school.
Banaitis was later drafted and served in the U.S. Army while attending night classes to receive a secondary education. In 1967, he married his wife Daiva Audenas. He later accepted a vice president position for the Bank of California in Portland, Ore., and the couple lived most of their married life in Wilsonville, where they made many friends and were actively involved in the Lithuanian community.
In 1989, Banitis founded his own company, Prolong Systems Inc. The company provided specialized temperature-controlled shipping containers for which the company owned several patents. After 30 years living in Wilsonville, he retired and moved to Lynden, Wash., with his wife. During his retirement, he enjoyed traveling, fishing, entertaining guests at his home, and spending time with his wife.
Banaitis was preceded in death by his parents, Justinas and Maria; and sister, Ramute Banaityte Hennings. He is survived by his wife, Daiva; nephew and godson, Hernando Hennings; niece, Yvette Hennings Berg and her husband, Steven; brother-in-law, Hugo Hennings; cousins, Gintare Ivaska and her family, Daina Maria DeTorok, and Tom Gudauskas and his family; and many close cousins and friends around the world.