Interview of Leonard Henry Banks
The following article is written by Nora Fleming Figger.
Like a still river that flows through the community and the city, we remember the good it did for those who used it and benefited from its use, so do we want to remember those who made it a pleasant place to live and gave it the character that we will remember today and all the days of our lives.
One citizen that comes to my memory is Leonard Henry Banks of Burdine, Kentucky. As I read his “Citizen of the Year” plaque, it brought back many memories. It went as follows: May 31, 1964, to Leonard H. Banks, “Reverently beloved. For the person you are; Merchant, Postmaster, and Friend; Generous and affectionately respected by your community.”
He was born at Dongola, Kentucky on January 10, 1901, and came to McRoberts, Kentucky in 1916 to work for the Consolidation Stores. First, he was a drayman to deliver groceries and ice, then the first to manage Tom Biggs store. He spent years at McRoberts until 1933.
He married Mattie Collins when he was nineteen years and raised a nice family. He always dedicated himself to the community in which he resided. He came to Gaskilº in 1933 and then to Burdine in 1934, where he resided until his death on December 5, 1971.
During these years, he managed Burdine Store and then went into business for himself in 1946. He not only managed the store, but he was also postmaster, and at one time, Mayor of Jenkins.
Mr. Banks was a very civic-minded citizen and was known for his help to his community all the way to the United States Congress. He was an active Boy Scout committee member from 1934 to 1971. He supported all school activities, and was active in the Kiwanis, the Quarterback Club, and was made a Kentucky Colonel in June 1964.
The thing that made Mr. Banks so outstanding was the character of the man that he was. First, he was taught all his life what the teachings of the Free and Accepted Masons meant. His life was to love and serve his fellow man and his reverence to God. When but a youth, he joined Whitesburg Masonic Lodge No. 754 and P. S. Wheeler Council No. 99 R&SM. He believed in the “Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.” All of these made him a great man to know and love.
We have had many good people pass our way, but this man is one who lives in the history of those who cared and made Jenkins a better place in which to live. His still waters have run deep into our hearts and he is one that would like to have been at this great gathering of past memories of Jenkins. I would like to remember him as a bridge-builder for those who needed him.
An old man going a lone highway, Came at the evening, cold and gray, To a chasm vast and deep and wide Through was flowing a sullen tide;
The old man crossed in the twilight dim, The sullen stream held no fears for him; But he turned when safe on the other side And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near, “You’re wasting strength with building here, Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way, You have crossed the chasm deep and wide, Why build you this bridge at eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head, “Good friend, in the past I have come,” he said “There followeth after me today A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me, To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be; He too must cross in the twilight dim, Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”
1973 the Jenkins Kentucky Area Jaycees booklet “History of Jenkins Kentucky” – the authors and publishers of the 1973 printing failed to include a copyright notice, and according to our understanding of the copyright law, it is now in the public domain.
Growing up I was taught to learn something new every day. Trying to live up to this axiom, I became a prolific and avid reader covering a wide range of topics and subjects. Although my personal studies have always been rather eclectic and included computer science, electricity, and electronics just to name a few. My favorite fields of study have always been Religion, Politics, and Economics, but my lifelong passion is the study of History and Anthropology.
I have also always been a bit of a dreamer and in the possession of a roving foot. As such my life has led me down paths not often traveled. My career has been long and varied and has included some strange ways to make a living, all legal by the way. But at last, all my passions and dreams have come together.
I have married the woman of my dreams. Together we have a wonderful home and we are both professional historians and spend our days in study.