While our publisher, Mary, needs no introduction to most of the people in the area, Patricia does. She has no “deep roots,” here, planted by choice, rather than chance. She appreciates the peaceful small-town rural atmosphere, clean air and local produce, and the numerous cultural and recreational experiences that surround us, from Lake Michigan to Fernwood, the library, art center and easy day-trips to Chicago by rail.
Pat is most comfortable working “behind the scenes,” while Mary is the “public face.” She feels that their mutual values, energy, creativity and sense of humor are what lets them work so well together.
Patricia Banker has over 45 years experience in the publishing field, from books to newspapers to advertising and promotions. She holds degrees in Art and English from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She has been married to her husband, Randal Peart, for 42 years and they have three sons (all married with families of their own) — two in the Chicago area and one in metro Ann Arbor—and eight grandchildren ranging in age from 11 through 2 months, making Buchanan a nice central location for visits.
Pat grew in southern Ohio, but her favorite times were at her Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley—she and Randal were even married there. A brief first marriage brought her to Detroit, where she actively made the most of a city that she never really wanted to live in. She was a “roving art teacher” for three schools, grades K-12, until a millage failure cut out the arts. So she turned to her love of print media and spirit of independence, establishing her own business by age 27—a graphic design studio/ad agency that was all-women (only by chance), with flexible time and babies allowed to come to the office. When she was expecting her third child, in1984, she came up with the idea of starting a local parenting magazine—an idea just a bit too far ahead of its time, but a great “learning experience.”
That adventure also opened opportunities, including establishing the award-winning “Parent Talk” page in the Detroit Free Press, editing and publishing The Michigan PTA Parents Guidebook, and editing Detroit Monthly Magazine. From there she became Executive Editor of Metro Woman, a regional magazine, keeping up with the latest technology of desktop publishing (c. 1991), thanks to a push from her engineer husband. She was editor and publisher of 500-page multi-cultural guidebook to the Metro Detroit area (Global Journeys in Metro Detroit) before finally leaving the city for rural Southwest Michigan.
Through the mid-80s to 90s she became disillusioned with the declining integrity of publishing business and finally, when her last son was off to college, gave it all up to pursue her own art “with heart & soul.” It was 1997 and internet marketing was in its infancy. She taught herself web design and online marketing. In 2007 she and Randal bought a second home near St. Joseph, moving there permanently several years later. From her small Amish-built studio she and her assistants produced and sold her pieces—many of them inspired by the beauty and bounty of the area—throughout the world.
As her business grew, she needed more space, and living so far out in the country was becoming more difficult. She discovered Buchanan by accident while looking for space in St. Joseph. That was in 2008. “I drove through town and felt an energy here, that good things were starting to happen.” She discovered a house in town, that, with a lot of renovating would be perfect for her purposes. It apparently always had been an apartment house, and she and Randal used it as a short-term rental for tourists and visitors, as well as their own family, housing her studio on the ground floor.
They made it their primary residence in 2014, and have been renting out a single apartment to Airbnb guests, helping fill a great need for visitors’ accommodations in Buchanan. Randal is well-known around town, having been very active in projects such as the Mill Race restoration. He also does whatever he can to get The Paper out—proofing, writing, delivery…
Though still shipping her art throughout the world from the Buchanan Post Office, Pat is phasing out that endeavor in order to focus on producing The Paper, and even though she and Randal are still considered “newcomers” by Buchanan standards, they feel at home and are very glad to have made the choice to “settle” here.