‘He had a great heart’: 91-year-old Korean War veteran dies of COVID-19


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Just this month, around 300 people in Minnesota have died from COVID-19.

That includes 91-year-old Sturgiss Banker. The father of four was a Korean War veteran, a scoutmaster, a mentor and a police officer in Crystal, Minnesota.

“He had a great heart for us, his kids, but his heart was a lot bigger than that,” said his son Mike Banker.

His family said he wanted his kids and others in the community to have a positive upbringing.

For his children, he made experiences happen even on a tight budget. He showed up for his community in many ways, and he worked for years as a juvenile officer.

“It always impressed me that my father was so well respected as a police officer,” his son Mark Banker said. “They would thank him, if he was there with me, for arresting them.”

Known to his family as “Bear,” he gave all of his grandkids teddy bears.

“He could be a teddy bear or kind of a growly bear, you just had to know how to approach him,” said his daughter Cheri Herbst. “But as he got older, he got sweeter and he got funnier.”

COVID-19 continues to impact the older population in Minnesota the most. While the state has seen a death younger than the age of 4, and reports 64 deaths between ages 20 and 50, more than half of the state’s deaths are above age 80.

Banker’s family said they were comforted to have moments with him outside his first-floor nursing home room in his final days.

“The COVID just happened so fast. He was very healthy, and it took him in three days,” Herbst said. “I guess what I want to say to people is, it is real, and take precautions.”

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