Cora J. Banks, 71

O cora banks

Cora Banks

PORTLAND — Cora Jean Banks, 71, of Portland, passed away on Friday, March 14, 2014 at the Barron Center surrounded by her family after battling Alzheimer’s disease for the past several years.

She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and aunt.

Cora was born on April 28, 1942 in Manchester, Conn., the daughter of Lois Smith and Rev. Clayton Richard. She graduated from Calais Memorial High School and Pierre's Beauty School in Portland.

Cora met her husband, James Banks, in Oct. 1961 while he was going door-to-door collecting money for the Heart Fund. In 1962, he was reintroduced to her by two of his good friends, Dan and Jane Lord, who encouraged him to go out on a blind date with Jane's friend named Cora. They were married Dec. 28, 1963 and recently celebrated their Golden Anniversary. She worked in the beauty salon in Lamey-Wellehan on Congress Street in Portland and at Mill Creek in South Portland. In 1968, she opened Cora’s Beauty Salon in her home in Portland. The beauty salon was to supplement her full-time job of raising her four sons and being a stay-at-home mom. In later years, she sold Avon, worked for the Portland school system, ServiceMaster and Dirigo Management.

In 1997, through her motivation to help children, as first lady of the New England and Bermuda District of Kiwanis, Cora supervised fundraising boutiques at each of the District’s Annual Conferences. Through her efforts and others, they raised over $11,000 to support the start of the first New England Kiwanis Builders Clubs, in addition to support Circle K Clubs, Key Clubs and the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Institute at the Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Being raised with a rich family tradition of Boy Scouts, Cora naturally raised her sons to become involved in Scouting. She was an active den mother and co-pack leader for Pack 66 and a leader in Troop 41, both in Portland. Cora worked diligently with her sons, and under her guidance, they all became Eagle Scouts.

When her oldest son, Jim, became involved in Little League #9, Cora again found a natural place in working for the benefit of children. By selling candy out of the back of her station wagon, she was able to raise funds to put toward building a concession stand that still today remains next to the Little League field.

As a daughter of a Congregational minister and as a strong Christian, Cora naturally became an active member of the North Deering Congregational Church in Portland. She served as superintendant of Sunday school, where she helped develop a Sunday school curriculum for the children. In addition, she served several years as a deaconess and helped lead the congregation through many of its transitional times. Cora proudly raised her sons in the church, where each were confirmed and had perfect attendance in Sunday school.

In her later years in the church, Cora pursued her passion for singing as an active member of the choir.

Cora was predeceased by her parents; sister Rosa Chase; and brothers Karl Richard, Christian Richard and John Richard.

She is survived by her husband, James Banks Sr. of Portland; her four sons, James Banks, Jr. of Fairfield, Gregory Banks of Salem, Mass., Douglas Banks Sr. of Naples and Jeffrey Banks of Somerville, Mass.; her three granddaughters, three grandsons, great-granddaughter and two great-grandsons; her siblings, Nina Rabbio, Sara Crosby, Sandra Russell, Erna Dressler, Eva Johnstone, Hilda Caruso, Clayton Richard, Rev. Thomas Richard, James Richard, Rhonda Thurston, Lisa Shank, Mark Richard, Lorna Richard, Lora Kebbati, Stuart Richard, Lydia Richard, Lynda Richard and Carvell Richard; and a large number of nieces, nephews and cousins.

Visitation was held on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at A.T. Hutchins Funeral and Cremation Services, 660 Brighton Ave., Portland. A prayer service will be held at the funeral home, at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 20, 2014 followed by a 10:30 a.m. funeral service at the North Deering Congregational Church, 1364 Washington Avenue, Portland. Interment will follow in Calvary Cemetery, South Portland.

To share personal words of comfort and memories with the family online, please visit

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Cora’s name to either: The Kiwanis Foundation of New England (, P.O. Box 2307, Westfield, MA 01086 or The Alzheimer’s Association of Maine (, 383 U.S. Route 1, Suite 2C, Scarborough, ME 04074.

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