That talent led to Jerry’s induction into the Tamburitzan Hall of Fame in 1998. He would be the last surviving member of his band before dying in 2011.
While Jerry was laboring with steel by day and making music by night, Eileen was laboring behind a typewriter by day and making a family life by night.
Along with Dan, there were his older siblings, Jeri Lynn (Sherby), who still lives in Highland and is retired from the Inland Steel Credit Union, and Gary, who resides in Hammond and still works in the steel mills.
Recalling his mother, Banina says, “She was my inspiration as a child to continue my education and do something more with my life than work in the steel mills, which is where most of the people worked. She provided constant encouragement to me and made sure I stayed on the right path.”
Like his father and grandfather, Banina developed a strong interest in music. At Highland High School he played trumpet in the concert, marching and jazz bands.
A government class he took in his senior year was a turning point in his life.
“While most kids thought the class incredibly boring,” Banina recalled, “I found it very interesting, particularly the examination of then recent cases like Roe v. Wade [which dealt with abortion rights].”
That’s when he “got the idea” of becoming a lawyer, Banina says.
After graduating in 1975, Banina attended St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer. He graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1979.
Banina went on to earn a J.D. in 1982 at Valparaiso University School of Law.
He interned and eventually worked for attorney Ronald Nelson in Valparaiso, but he soon decided he needed a better job. He launched a state-wide search that led him to Franklin County in southern Indiana, where he spent three years as the chief deputy prosecuting attorney.