Fontaine Banks Jr., longtime public servant, dies at 84

jbrammer@herald-leader.comNovember 23, 2013 

Fontaine Banks, left, with Gov. Steve Beshear

Fontaine Banks Jr., whose public service career spanned more than 50 years and involved working in various roles for six governors, died Friday. He was 84.

Mr. Banks, who had Parkinson's disease, retired two years ago as a senior policy adviser to Gov. Steve Beshear. He was a staff member in Beshear's 2007 campaign for governor.

Mr. Banks, of Frankfort, was an aide for the late Gov. Bert T. Combs from 1960 to 1963 and for the late Gov. Edward T. "Ned" Breathitt from 1963 to 1967.

He also was secretary of the Cabinet for Human Resources from January 1993 to May 1994 for Gov. Brereton Jones and deputy human resources secretary for Gov. Martha Layne Collins in the 1980s.

In 2008, Mr. Banks wrote a book about his career called Memoirs of a Political Legend.

He said his greatest work in state government was helping Combs create the state merit system to protect rank-and-file state workers from political influence.

A Pike County native who was the son of a coal miner, Mr. Banks volunteered for the Marines and served in the Korean War.

He graduated from Belfry High School in Pike County and received a bachelor's degree in history and political science in 1951 from Berea College. He also studied at the universities of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Cornell.

A "Celebration of Life" service will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church, 495 Duckers Road near Midway. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until services Monday at the church. A private committal service will be held.

Jack Brammer: (859) 231-1302. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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