Over the past few years, Mike Banks has been a co-worker and friend to everyone in the Mike Cottrell College of Business. His passing in early January shocked all of us. It was a tremendous loss for our College and the entire north Georgia community.
While promotion and ticket sales have already begun for our Inspirational Leaders Luncheon next week, we have made the decision to honor Mike’s memory by changing the Inspiration in Business and Inspiration in Community Awards to be in his honor. If you have yet to purchase tickets, click here to do so.
Born in 1946, Mike Banks graduated from Gainesville High School, from Truett-McConnell College with an Associate in Arts and from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism where he was a member of the Di Gamma Kappa Broadcast Society.
Banks was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church, Gainesville, where he earned the ranking of Eagle Scout as a member of Troop 26. While attending the college student Sunday school class taught by Dr. Hugh Mills, he met his future wife, Willia Buquet. He loved singing bass in the church choir. He served as a Stephen Minister and was a longtime deacon. Mike was instrumental in beginning the radio ministry of First Baptist. He was most recently a member of the Anglers Sunday school class.
Mike began his business career in Gainesville as a disc jockey at WGGA radio station, citing Mr. John Jacobs as his early mentor. Mike then began a career in fundraising at Brenau College in Gainesville. During his years with Brenau, he was proud to help raise the funds for the renovation of Pearce Auditorium. When Mike discovered that actress Amanda Blake, “Miss Kitty,” of the television program “Gunsmoke” was an Alumna of Brenau Academy, he contacted her and so began her long tradition of giving to Brenau. While at Brenau, Mike also developed the journalism and marketing programs. Mike then transitioned into marketing and banking with Ray McRae as his mentor at First National Bank of Gainesville. He later worked at Gainesville Bank and Trust. During his banking years, Mike led groups in tours of Italy, Scotland and Ireland. At the time of his death, Mike was the Development Officer at the Mike Cottrell College of Business at the University of North Georgia. Throughout his professional career, he also expressed appreciation for the counsel and friendship of Mr. Philip Wilheit of Gainesville.
Among Mike’s business and professional accomplishments, he was particularly proud of two of his interviews, an interview with Braves Hall of Fame member Hank Aaron after witnessing his 500th home run, and his interview of President Jimmy Carter and Sen. Sam Nunn. Mike was active in local and state politics, “supporting the man, not the party.” He served as president of the Gainesville–Hall Chamber of Commerce in 1985 and through the Chamber of Commerce, led the Georgia Delegation of State Dignitaries to Gainesville’s sister city, Ohito, Japan.
Mike’s deep commitment to community service was inspired by Matthew 25:36-40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” NIV.
Mike had extensive professional and civic roles including: Chair, Georgia Bankers Association Marketing Committee; Instructor, Georgia Bankers Association Banking School at the University of Georgia and the American Institute of Banking; District Vice Chair Council for Advancement and Support of Education; Consultant with National Consulting Network of Independent Colleges; Founder and member of Executive Committee of John Jarrard Foundation; Founding Board member of the North Georgia Community Foundation; Chair, Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce, Family Relations Program, and the Northeast Georgia Medical Center Foundation Legacy Circle Committee; President, Gainesville Kiwanis Club; Treasurer and Board Member, Edmondson-Telford Center for Children; Board Member, Brenau University Board of Advisors; Board Chair, Lakeview Academy; Endowment Chair, Northeast Georgia Council, Boy Scouts of America; Member, Executive Committee, United Way of Hall County; Treasurer and Executive Board, Gainesville College Foundation; Member of Board of Trustees, the former Gainesville College; Member of Leadership Hall County and Leadership Georgia.
Mike’s personal interests included photography, golf, hunting, participating in his men’s book club, and vacationing with family and friends.
We are forever thankful for his friendship and his efforts in the Mike Cottrell College of Business. It is an honor to be able to recognize him through these awards.