JESSE HOMER BANKSTON, SR.
1907 LA – 2010 LA
Photo from Greenoaks
Funeral Home and Memorial Park
Photo from Wikipedia
Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA—Tuesday, 30 November
Jesse Homer Bankston passed away at home in
Baton Rouge on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010. Jesse was 103, having been born in
Mount Hermon on Oct. 7, 1907. He attended LSU, where he received his B.A.
degree in 1933 and his M.A. degree in 1936. He completed his course and
residency requirements for his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina in
Upon his return to Baton Rouge, he served as a
management consultant charged with reorganization of Louisiana government. In
1942, he became an organizational specialist in the Civil Service Department.
He moved to the state Department of Institutions in 1944 as administrative
assistant and became director of the department in 1947. After serving as the
director of the state Hospital Board from 1948-1952, he left state government
to open his health-care consulting firm, Bankston and Associates.
In 1956, Gov. Earl Long recruited him to return
to state service as director of the newly created Department of Hospitals,
where he served until 1959.
Returning to his consulting practice, he
received national and international recognition for his work with over 200
health-care organizations in the U.S. and Central America. Jesse was elected
president of the American Academy of Healthcare Consultants and president of
the International Institute of Hospital Consultants. Jesse continued his
consulting practice until 1990.
He was passionate about improving education in
Louisiana and was elected to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary
Education in 1968, where he served for 28 years. During his tenure he served as
secretary and chairman of the board.
He also was the longest-serving member of the
Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee, having served for 51 years until
his death. During his term on the State Central Committee, he served as
secretary and chairman. In 2002, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political
Hall of Fame. Information regarding his career is displayed in the Louisiana
Political Museum in Winnfield.
In 1948, Jesse assisted in the formation of the
Louisiana Hospital Association and served as its first secretary until
permanent staff was hired in 1956. In addition to his health-care, education,
and political pursuits, he also served as president of the Baton Rouge YMCA,
Young Men's Business Club, Mental Health Association and Tuberculosis Society.
He was a founding member of LSU Lagniappe
Studies and The Sons and Daughters of the Providence and Republic of West
Florida. He wrote and published several genealogical references, a book about
Gov. Earl K. Long, and more recently a memoir entitled "Memories of a
Country Boy," chronicling his boyhood life in Washington Parish.
He also served on the boards of Louisiana Public
Broadcasting, the Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, Camp Fire and the United Way.
Jesse was a member of Masonic Lodge 52 Jerusalem Temple, Shrine Club, Gen.
Philemon Thomas Chapter Sons of the American Revolution, American Hospital
Association and Louisiana Hospital Association.
He was a member of the Broadmoor Baptist Church,
where he served as a member of the Board of Trustees. In 2007, Jesse was
awarded the inaugural T.J. Jemison Race Relations Award by Mount Zion First
Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. The presentation noted "Mr. Bankston has
spent his life working to bring people together regardless of their race, ethnicity
or religious backgrounds."
The family would like to note our appreciation
for the loving care given to Jesse by Mrs. Sue Burton and Ms. Ella Lollis and
the steadfast friendship of Paul Duell.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 59
years, Ruth Paine Bankston; his mother and father, Leon V. and Allie Magee
Bankston; and 10 siblings, Zula Dean Swetman, Albert Roland Bankston, Carl Leon
Bankston, Cecil Noel Bankston, Theresa Louisa Powell, Roy Van Bankston, Jacob
Magee Bankston, Mildred Willeana Garrett, Marie Allie Scoggins, and Leo Victor
Bankston. He also was preceded in death by his great-grandson, Graham Gibbs
He is survived by his four children, Shirley
Newsham and husband Thomas D. Newsham, Dale L. Bankston and his wife Rebecca
Sanders Bankston, Larry S. Bankston Sr. and his wife Lynn Naebers Bankston and
Jesse H. Bankston Jr. He is also survived by grandchildren Amy Newsham Scroggs,
Cathleen Newsham Korpics and husband John Korpics, Jennifer Newsham Keeler and
husband Dr. Tim Keeler, Dr. Bradley Bankston and wife Christina Kleiner
Bankston, Kevin Bankston, Matthew Bankston and wife Leah Star Bankston, Dr.
Larry "Chip" Bankston Jr., Lauren Bankston Petty and husband Michael
Petty, Benjamin Bankston, Kendall Krielow, Ashlyn Krielow, and Hunter Bankston;
five great-grandchildren and a great-great grandchild.
Pallbearers will be Paul Bankston, Hunter
Bankston, Dr. Larry "Chip" Bankston, Benjamin Bankston, Kevin
Bankston, Matthew Bankston, and Dr. Bradley Bankston. Honorary pallbearers will
be Walter Bankston, Paul Duell, Judge Frank Foil, Judge James Brady, Victor
Bussie and John Mmahat.
Visitation will be Thursday, Dec. 2, from 5 p.m.
to 8 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 3, from 8 a.m. until service at 10 a.m. at Greenoaks
Funeral Home, 9595 Florida Blvd. The Rev. George Haile will preside. In lieu of
flowers, donations may be made to the Volunteers of America or a charity of
Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, LA—Tuesday, 30 November
Jesse Bankston's most colorful claim to fame was
his refusal to release Gov. Earl K. Long from a mental hospital - a stance that
cost him his job as director of the state Department of Hospitals in the 1950s.
However, political and other state leaders said
Monday that they will remember Bankston for his populist spirit and his efforts
to build a racially diverse Democratic Party.
Bankston, the longest-serving member of the
Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee, died Thanksgiving Day in Baton
Rouge. He was 103.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday
at Greenoaks Funeral Home, 9595 Florida Blvd.
Bankston is survived by his children: Shirley
Newsham, Dale Bankston, Larry Bankston and Jesse Bankston Jr.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, and
10 brothers and sisters.
"His footprint is also much of our
history," U.S. District Judge James Brady said. "He is a magnificent
story, coming from very poor beginnings in Washington Parish, working his way
through LSU, getting into state politics, involved in the commitment of Earl
Long to a mental hospital and then Earl fired him."
Brady said Bankston became chairman of the
Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee because Gov. Edwin Edwards wanted
to loosen segregationists' control on the party.
"I would give him credit for leading the
Louisiana Democratic Party into the new age," said Ben Jeffers, a longtime
state Democratic Party leader and Baton Rouge political consultant.
Bankston served on the State Central Committee for
Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Bankston cared
deeply about the working people. "He was the original Democrat," she
Democratic Party leader Buddy Leach said
Bankston was a populist along the lines of some of the members of the Long
political dynasty. "He worked with the working man more than he had
contacts necessarily with the intellectual part of the party or the financial
secure part of the party," Leach said. "He was more down with the
Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement that
Bankston was an influential political figure. "He lived a long and full
life - devoting himself to the people of Louisiana for nearly seven decades as
a public servant," Jindal said. "Supriya and I will keep his family
and friends in our thoughts and prayers."
Bankston had a number of ties to state
government over the years. He served as director of the state Hospital Board.
He was a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for 28
Long hired him in 1956 to run the state
Department of Hospitals. Three years later, Long tried to get Bankston to
discharge him from a mental hospital. Bankston refused. Long fired him and
replaced him with someone who would release him from the hospital.
After Long fired him in 1959, Bankston resumed
his work as a health-care consultant.
He also was an author. He wrote books about Long
and about his own childhood in Washington Parish, "Memories of a Country
NOTES: SSDI records do not list his death.
Jesse had no Alford ancestors, but he was
interested in Alford genealogy.
His memorial at Greenoaks Funeral Home includes