Nora Elizabeth Lee Banks, known as “Betty,” to family and friends was born in East Pittsburgh, PA on September 23, 1923 as the second of five children of William Henry Lee and Odile Ribeau Lee. Graduating at the age of 16 from Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Betty attended University of Pittsburgh for two years before relocating to Washington, DC to attend Howard University. It was while attending Howard that Betty met Junius “Duke” Banks, the man destined to be her beloved husband for 60 years. Betty graduated from Howard University in 1948 with a BS in Physical Education minoring in Zoology and was an instructor there for one year before attending Wellesley College where she received a MS in Hygiene and Physical Education with concentrations in physiology and kinesiology in 1950.
Betty began her career within the District of Columbia School System in 1951 as a physical education teacher at Randall Junior High School. Her career quickly accelerated, advancing from classroom teacher to school counselor to school assistant principal before moving into central administration. After completing her doctorate at Georgetown University, when the DC School System regionalized in the mid-70s, Betty was appointed Deputy Superintendent for Region 3. In 1980, she retired from the school system as Superintendent for Region 1, an area at the time comprising 31 schools and 26,000 students. In 1981, Betty and Duke relocated to Silver Spring Shores in Ocala, FL where they enjoyed golfing, entertaining friends, and volunteering for their church and numerous charitable organizations. Betty also enjoyed a brief stint as adjunct professor at the University of Florida at Gainesville until its demands started interfering with her golf game. However, wanting to be closer to their granddaughter, Betty and Duke returned to the DC area in 1997 where they reconnected with family and dear friends, and continued their love of golf, playing cards, traveling, and entertaining.
Betty was active in The National Smart Set (Washington, DC Chapter), her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, was a lifetime member of the NAACP, as well as involved with several smaller social groups including “The JUGS” (Just Us Girls), Precious Collection, Hens & Roosters, and the 12 Gs. She is preceded in death by her husband of 60 years Junius M. “Duke” Banks, as well as older brother Thomas Edmund and younger brothers James Robert and John William.
Left to celebrate her life are her daughter Nanci Banks, son-in-law G. Steven Monteiro and granddaughter Allyn Monteiro, younger brother Edward Harry, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, and family friends.
Due to covid-19 restrictions, a small private burial is planned for local family with the intent of hosting a celebration of life memorial service in late spring.
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