Geraldine "Jeri" M. (Hurlbut) Bannister

1941 - 2021

Turners Falls


Geraldine M. Bannister, 80, of Davis St. died Sunday (6-20-21) at Charlene Manor Extended Care Facility in Greenfield. She was born February 27, 1941 in Mexico, NY the daughter of Harold and Dorothy (Fox) Hurlbut.
Jeri was a proud graduate of Mexico Academy in Mexico, NY where she would annually return to play in the Alumni band with her siblings. She earned her Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree at Ithaca College in Music Education and Performance. She was a lifelong learner and continued taking Graduate Coursework at Syracuse University and received a CAGS from Fitchburg State University.
Jeri started teaching elementary instrumental music in Sherrill, NY. When she met her husband, they moved to Connecticut and she blessed the Elementary students in Southington, CT with her talents. When the family moved to Turners Falls in 1971, Jeri worked for Stoneleigh Burnham School, Northfield Mount Hermon School, Bement School, Deerfield Academy while delivering private lessons from home. Jeri also became the instrumental music teacher in the Gill Montague and Greenfield School Districts. She is responsible for the Pioneer Valley Elementary Music Festival and the All-Town Bands. There's a running joke around town that if you are 46 and younger, she was your music teacher at one point.
Jeri loved to perform music and would likely accept any playing gig there was. She and her husband were founding members of the Pioneer Valley Brass Quintet, playing concerts in the area for the Dana Vespers. She played clarinet professionally, she also was a trombone player for the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra for over 30 years. She played in Greenfield, Orange, Brattleboro, Keene, and the Flamingo Jazz Band out of Connecticut. She was delighted to play the Tuba Christmas. When she traveled to Ireland, she was also asked to play there.
Jeri was a devoted Christian and offered her Godly service in so many ways to the churches of St James and Andrews in Greenfield, MA. She would bless the congregation at Christmas Eve Service with an alto trombone rendition of “O Holy Night” which would draw tears for its beauty (and a standing ovation). She sang in the choir, was a bell ringer, folded programs, was a reader, a greeter, a host for coffee hour, and an all-around cheerful volunteer.
She loved animals and would care for them without hesitation. She would give her faithful cat Katie (for Cadence) a solon treatment daily. She would also joke about how appropriately she named her skittish cat Haydn (for the composer). We would frequently hear about  her crazy antics growing up on the “farm” in Mexico, NY.
She was a voracious reader. Her love of books offered her another chance to volunteer at the Friends of the Carnegie Public Library in Turners Falls, MA where she would be seen multiple times a week exchanging books.
Her most favorite hobby was traveling. Although she loved to drive (and compare gas mileage), she also loved to travel overseas to Ireland to visit with her husband’s family. She loved sleeping in a hotel room in Maine with the glass doors open (to hear the waves). She used to search for lakes in New England while listening to music. 
Jeri is survived by her husband of 53 years Cedric, her daughters; Colleen Bannister of Greenfield and Tara Bannister of Turners Falls, her Sisters Betty Lou Eddy and Nancy Luger, her brothers Harold Hurlbut, David Hurlbut, James Hurlbut, and Gary Hurlbut all from various villages in New York. And, more nieces and nephews than you could imagine.
A memorial service will be held at a later time and date to be announced.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Westfield State Foundation ℅ softball, 577 Western Ave, Westfield, MA 01086 where her daughter is the Head Softball Coach. 
Arrangements are under the direction of Kostanski Funeral Home.
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July 7, 2021 10:33 AM

Jeri was a bright, joyous light in my son’s life. He looked forward to their duets each week and they really enjoyed each other’s company. Jeri will live on in him, and I am so grateful you were in his life.

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June 26, 2021 6:13 PM
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Emily Samuels

June 25, 2021 2:41 PM

Jeri Bannister was an inspiring colleague, and I’d like to add her years of teaching at Erving Elementary to the list of her accomplishments. Jeri set many a student on a musical journey for life; her spark and joy with her students was unbounded. When our job responsibilities changed, I had the privilege of exchanging professional development with Jeri; she taught me her secrets of successful instrumental teaching, and I shared with her my experience as a teacher of classroom music. With her tutelage, I embarked on a whole new subset in my career, and know first hand how effective her teaching was. 

Without a doubt, the Franklin County Elementary Music Festival is a huge part of her legacy, with 17 years of wonderful music and memories. Jeri's skills in organizing, scheduling, arranging, paying attention to detail, and, of course, the T-Shirt contest, provided young Franklin County musicians with a unique musical experience. Coming together with kids from all over the county, preparing music intensely at a level that was beyond the individual schools, playing in a band of over 100 kids, was magical. And if that wasn't enough, Jeri encouraged the vocal teachers to provide a similar experience for singers, and the Festival broadened to several hundred students. Jeri was unflappable on those bustling rehearsal days, keeping what could have been hectic on an even keel. The performances were extraordinary, as was Jeri. She will be missed.

Harriet Paine

June 25, 2021 9:35 AM

Such a beautiful tribute for a life fully lived while touching and enriching the lives of so many!  I am so very sorry for your loss.  Harriet Paine 

Quentin & Mary Murrell Faulkner

June 25, 2021 8:52 AM

What a privilege it was to share music-making with Jeri! Her enthusiasm and optimism were contagious, and her friendship, stalwart. We are grateful that our life paths came together.
Quentin & Mary Murrell Faulkner

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