- THE MAGAZINE
I join hundreds, and even thousands, of Bane-Cleners from all over the world in saying that, quite simply, we are at a loss for words as we mourn the loss of our great friend and industry leader William F. "Bill" Bane. It's been almost a month and the time has come to attempt the next step, however, which is to try to put his amazing life into perspective.
Mr. Bane was, to us, a humble, generous and sincere man filled with unique wisdom and common sense developed over many years and life experiences. He could always be counted on to counsel us as to what was in our best interest, and always spoke encouraging words when we sought his input. He was not only exemplary in his gentlemanly love for his dear wife of 67 years and loyalty to his family, but his praiseworthy conduct even overflowed towards "enemies." Many times in his "Cleaning Digest" or "Clene Times" articles he would go out of his way to commend a competitor where such was warranted. This was despite a constant barrage of unfair criticism which he often received and was aware of. Mr. Bane held no grudges! He firmly believed that "The Bane-Clene Way" was the best way, but he reached out to others in the industry and commended them where possible. True leaders always take the arrows, but Mr. Bane did it without bitterness.
When someone in the Bane-Clene family or the cleaning industry at-large passed away, he wrote touching tributes to them (as was the case regarding Howard Olansky, founder of ICS). He was always inspiring and edifying to be around. He knew how to listen to us every bit as perceptively as he spoke. Allow me, please, to share some of my enduring and endearing personal memories of Mr. Bane. Before I came to Bane-Clene in 1983, the very first issue of the "Cleaning Digest" I received in the mail (from early 1981) told me a lot about its publisher, William F. Bane. There was a Japanese-American man shown on the cover, cleaning draperies, you see. Mr. Bane lacked prejudice before it was fashionable to be that way, and when I later learned he was a World War II veteran I was even more impressed with him for that. At my first visit to Bane-Clene Institute, there was a female entrepreneur back in the days when this was uncommon in the male-dominated cleaning industry. Mr. Bane treated her with total respect and again, he was on the cutting edge with this attitude. I was amazed at how a man in his 50s at the time (I was in my 20s) adapted so well to the changes around him and, in fact, helped effect many of the positive ones.
He truly loved baseball (and knew the game very well), he truly loved this country and, most of all, he truly loved people. Even after I retired last year, he and I remained good friends and e-mailed each other often about those things I just mentioned, and others. Towards the end of his life, he never complained or felt sorry for himself, he merely asked for prayers and expressed gratitude when assured that they were forthcoming. When I think of Mr. Bane, I think of a man I respect, not just a gentleman but a "gentle man." He was a thinking man, an articulate man, a generous man, a man's man. He was a salesman extraordinaire, but always a supremely ethical one in my 32 years of dealing with him. In my opinion, the system he sold was as extraordinary as his gift of salesmanship. I used it for 30 years before retiring last year.
In conclusion, Bill Bane was a man worth emulating and respecting. He was a man who was very rare and who will be greatly missed by a world which has changed so much, often for the worst, in his lengthy and uplifting lifetime. Yes, Mr. Bane was true friend to me and thousands of others who mourn his loss with tremendous sorrow of heart.
-Chet Jelinski, Whiting, NJ
Letters to the Editor can be sent to ICS Editor Eric Fish at email@example.com. ICS reserves the right to edit submitted letters for grammar and space.