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 1939. 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 K. Long recruited Jesse 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, Boy Scouts of America, Salvation Army, Camp Fire and the United Way. Jesse was a member of Masonic Lodge 52 Jerusalem Temple, Shrine Club, Gen. Philemon Thomas Chapter of the 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 that "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 was also preceded in death by his great-grandson, Graham Gibbs Bankston. 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 12 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 your choice.
Published in The Advocate from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, 2010.