Ed Banks “Mayor of Third Ward” Passes Away at Age 75

The city of Houston has lost another one of its iconic figures, as Mr. Ed Banks, who was affectionately known as the “Mayor of Third Ward” passed away on Feb. 15 at the age of 75.

Back in December, the Forward Times joined forces with the historic S.H.A.P.E. Community Center on the first night of Kwanzaa at the newly renovated Emancipation Park, to honor seven elders who best exemplified the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Mr. Banks was one of those elders, and he was selected because he best represented the principle of Ujima, or Collective Work & Responsibility.

That principle by definition, means “to build and maintain the community together, and to make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.”

This was a principle that truly embodied who Mr. Banks was to the Greater Houston area, especially Third Ward.

Mr. Banks had a true commitment to Third Ward, which has been the community he has called home since he was born. Prior to leaving Houston for a career in the military, Mr. Banks was raised in Third Ward, having attended Blackshear Elementary, Ryan Middle School and Jack Yates High School. After his stint as an electrician in the U.S. Army, Mr. Banks continued to live in Third Ward where he raised his family, along with his wife.

Mr. Banks was employed by McJunkin Corp. for nearly forty years, but his passion and heart for politics and his community were something he could not ignore. He became extremely active in politics and in his community, which is how he eventually became known as the “Mayor of Third Ward.”

In Third Ward, Mr. Banks got involved with S.H.A.P.E. in the 1970s and was a part of many initiatives and movements at S.H.A.P.E., including the efforts to win the freedom for wrongfully convicted death row inmate Clarence Brandley. He served on the S.H.A.P.E. Board of Directors for many years and was active at S.H.A.P.E. until he was no longer able to actively participate.

“Ed was always there for S.H.A.P.E.,” said Deloyd Parker, S.H.A.P.E. Community Center Founder and Executive Director. “He kept us in tune about what was going on politically, and if you ever wanted to know what the pulse in the community was, you had to talk to Ed Banks.

Parker recalls how Mr. Banks’ views about every day being a new start was reflected in a greeting he would deliver to every person he met.

“Every day is a new day. Every moment is a new moment. Every second is a new second,” said Parker. “That is why every single day Ed Banks greeted anyone, regardless of what time of the day it was, he would greet them by saying ‘Good Morning’. That was just the kind of man he was. He was our mayor. Everyone at S.H.A.P.E. will miss him.”

In addition to his involvement at S.H.A.P.E., Mr. Banks was also extremely instrumental in helping get the Third Ward Multi-Service Center located on Ennis St., which is where residents and seniors have been able to vote, receive medical care, participate in social programs and receive many more services since the doors were opened back in 2002.

Another person who was impacted by the life of Mr. Banks was current District D Houston City Councilman Dwight Boykins.

“I met Ed Banks when Sheila Jackson Lee ran for her Congressional seat and the one thing I can say about him is that he was always a man of his word,” said Boykins. “When I first decided to run for District D and wanted to connect with the Third Ward community, I knew I had to meet with Ed Banks, but he didn’t initially support me. I asked him if I could gain his support if I made the runoff and if his candidate did not, and he told me yes he would. He kept his word to me and never wavered, and I am forever grateful for it.”

Boykins stated that he gave up his salary and decided to hire seniors to work in the community. He asked Mr. Banks if he would be interested in working part-time as his council liaison to the Third Ward and Midtown area, and Mr. Banks agreed to take on the role in 2014 until he began to experience health challenges, particularly after suffering a stroke a few years prior.

“Ed Banks helped me in so many ways,” said Boykins. “He helped me raise money to help seniors with minor home repairs and he personally helped me identify the seniors who needed help the most, so I put him on the board of directors. He helped me with the Holiday Tree Lighting event and my Golf Tournament for the seniors. He was a huge icon with a soft voice and he played a major role in the development of the senior program, and he will be missed.”

Mr. Banks, affectionately known as the “Mayor of Third Ward”, is survived by Mary, his wife of 52 years, his daughter, Pamela Banks, and his son, Edward Banks II. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Marsha Banks.

The viewing for Mayor Banks is scheduled for 10 a.m. and the funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 24, 2018, at St. John’s Church in downtown Houston, located at 2019 Crawford, Houston, Texas, 77002.