“Uncle Ozzie” Clifford R. Banks, Jr. 82, of Portage, passed away of natural causes, non-covid related, peacefully Saturday, November 27, 2021 at his home. He was born January 26, 1939 on the family farm in Waushara County, the son of Clifford R., Sr. and Effie (Nigh) Banks.
Cliff grew up attending Plainfield Schools and then attended Waushara Community College from 1956 to 1959. He was united in marriage to Joanne Keup from 1960 to 1983, Alice Banks from 1985 to 1992 and Shirley Stibb on July 3, 1998. Cliff taught all eight grades at a school outside of Ripon; he worked at Adams County State Bank as a loan teller for six years. Cliff also held many sales positions throughout the years at selling flooring, furniture, cars, and RVs; eventually retiring from Carpet Land in Madison. His true passion was playing Polka music and entertaining his fans as “Uncle Ozzie” for many, many years. His journey started as a young teenager in his father’s band, Cliff Banks & the Sunset Ramblers, where he learned how to play trumpet, trombone, and rhythm guitar. He was influenced by the style of music by “Cousin Fuzzy.” While entertaining, he traveled all over the country, promoting bus trips to Branson, Memphis, Nashville, and other parts of the United States. They traveled to a total of 17 states with his 8 to 10 person band while playing music for festivals, dances, and weddings, and during this time five albums were recorded. He also had a radio show out of Poynette in the 1980's. He also enjoyed wintering in Arizona with his wife Shirley for many winters and spending time with his step grandchildren.
Survivors include wife Shirley of 23 years; daughter Kim (Mike) Cielecki; son Clifford, III (Lorrie) Banks; step-daughters Ann Bleich (Cary Dahl) and Mary Crook; grandchildren Codi and Cavan Banks; step-grandchildren Cody and Katlyn Crook, nephews John (Joann) Werner and Jim (Kathleen) Werner, He was preceded in death by his parents; sister Rebecca “Rosie” Werner; brother-in-law Jack Werner, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Funeral services will be held Friday, December 3 at 11 AM at Grasse Funeral Home in Pardeeville with Rev. Joe Corbin officiating. Interment will follow at Plainfield Cemetery. Visitation will be held Thursday, December 2 from 2 to 6 PM at Grasse Funeral Home and again from 10 AM until the time of services Friday. Family requests mask requirements and social distancing guidelines. The funeral will be livestreamed at https://youtu.be/R2R8QrtE_HE The family would like to extend a special thank you to St. Croix Hospice for their care of Cliff.