James A. Banks, 73, postal worker, churchman

July 11, 2002

James A. Banks, a retired postal employee and a church elder, died Sunday of a heart attack at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 73 and lived in the Pimlico section of Northwest Baltimore.

He retired in 1988 after working 29 years for the downtown post office on East Fayette Street. As a young man he did building maintenance for Rose Shanis Loan Co.

An elder in Sweet Hope Free Will Baptist Church in Northwest Baltimore, he conducted a prison ministry -- two services monthly -- at Patuxent Institution correctional facility in Jessup for the past 19 years. On Mondays, he managed a soup kitchen at his church.

"My father aspired to be a modern-day John the Baptist," said his son, Howard Banks of Chicago. "He never sought recognition for what he did. He was a humble person. He thought his service was to help those people who were less fortunate and in the greatest need."

Born in Cambridge and raised on Shuter Street in East Baltimore, he was a graduate of Carver Vocational Technical High School, where he studied refrigeration. He attended Morgan State University.

During the Korean War, he served in the Army and was stationed at Pusan.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Sweet Hope Church, 3925 Dolfield Ave.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 37 years, the former Lena Turnage; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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