A valued friend to the UF College of Medicine and one of Alachua County’s most respected and beloved physicians Cullen W. Banks, M.D., has passed. He died Tuesday at his home in Gainesville following a lengthy illness. He was 88.
Over the course of his remarkable career that spanned 47 years, Banks, an esteemed obstetrician/gynecologist, delivered an estimated 4,000 babies. He may best be known for being the first African-American to have full practicing privileges in Alachua County – first at Alachua General in 1949, and later at North Florida Regional Medical Center, where he was a founding trustee.
Banks’ dedication to his patients and his tireless work in the community made him a legend around the state. In 1996, the Florida Medical Association awarded him the Certificate of Merit, and The Gainesville Sun named him the area’s Person of the Year in 1998. Banks was also honored by the Gainesville Rotary Club with its Service Above Self award.
Banks, who earned his medical degree from Howard University in 1948, leaves a significant impact on the College of Medicine. For many years he served on the Admissions Committee, influencing the quality and character of several UF medical school classes. An endowed scholarship in Banks’ name ensures that his influence will last in perpetuity. The Cullen Banks, M.D., Scholarship is awarded to students with a commitment to leadership and community service and who have an understanding of racial and ethnic issues in society, particularly the doctor-patient relationship.
Banks is survived by his wife of 54 years, LaKay Banks, and his three children, Barry; Garry, a 1990 graduate of the College of Medicine; and Colleen; and three grandchildren.
The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Greater Bethel AME Church. In lieu of flowers, the Banks family has asked that donations be made to the Cullen Banks, MD Scholarship at the University of Florida Foundation.