Hempstead's Theron 'Teddy' Banks Sr. dies

Theron "Teddy" Banks Sr. of Hempstead, a former Nassau County social worker, Hempstead High School attendance officer and a Korean War veteran, died Tuesday of pneumonia at Nassau University Medical Center. He was 84.

Banks, who grew up in Hempstead, was a sports enthusiast who in 1946 was the first African-American captain of the Hempstead High School Tigers football team.

He would go on to Morgan State University in Baltimore and, as a tailback, help lead the school to a football championship in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the NCAA division that includes historically black colleges and universities, in 1949. His family said he was later recruited by the Green Bay Packers but never played for them, instead going into the U.S. Army.

He was an infantryman in Korea and was discharged in 1954 as a corporal.

Banks returned to Hempstead and went to work for the Department of Social Services, from which he retired 17 years later. He then went to work at the high school, retiring from there in 1984.

"Teddy was a class act, a gentleman in everything he did," said Hempstead Village Trustee Don Ryan, who played softball with him after he retired. "He was a better person than he was an athlete, and he was a great athlete."

Trustee Perry Pettus said: "Ted personified the best of this village."

Michelle Banks, his daughter-in-law, said "his love, concern, encouraging and empowering firm expectations of self-discipline and obtaining an education was transferred to youth under his charge."

He was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and had been a member of Jackson Memorial AME Zion Church in the village since his youth.

"In retirement, he enjoyed league bowling, playing on the Cosmos softball team and listening to jazz," said his wife of 61 years, Dolores "Johnny" Banks, who had been the village's superintendent of tax and water for 37 years. "He remained supportive of Hempstead students, attending football and basketball games regularly."

Other survivors include a daughter, Tracy Presti of South Hempstead; two sisters, Wilnet Green of Hempstead and Mercedes Pettus of Danville, Ill.; and three grandchildren.

Viewing will be at the church from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a funeral service. The body will be cremated.

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