By Galen Holley and M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A former captain of industry turned philanthropist during retirement is this year’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year.
Alan Mark Bank accepted the honor from the Junior Auxiliary of Tupelo Friday night before a crowd of more than 750 gathered in the BancorpSouth Arena.
Cheered by his wife, Marilynne, and members of his family, the 81-year-old ascended a stage decorated with Mardi Gras masks for the 47th annual Charity Ball, titled “Crescent City Masquerade.”
“It’s an awesome privilege to volunteer and to help people in need, and the people of Tupelo have given me the opportunity,” Bank said.
After moving to Tupelo from Jersey City, N.J., Bank served as the chief executive of Super Sagless for more than 40 years.
Susie Morgan, Junior Auxiliary president, said Bank has invested heavily in his adopted home.
“He could have retired, hit the golf course or tennis court,” she said, “but he didn’t. Instead, he has expanded his influence.”
When Bank left Super Sagless, he took on the role of president and CEO for the Regional Rehabilitation Center. He recently spearheaded a successful $2 million capital campaign to remodel the center.
“Tonight’s honoree has many noteworthy accomplishments that are not limited to one area,” Morgan said, “but include education, the arts, economic development and health care.”
Bank has left his stamp on the Good Samaritan Free Clinic, Itawamba Community College Foundation, Tupelo Artist Guild, Cultural Alliance of Tupelo and Lee County, Sanctuary Hospice House, North Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi Arts Commission and many more organizations.
“I have known Alan for 50 years and his quiet demeanor and generous good will to all are obvious,” said Dr. Marion Winkler, “and his dedication to Tupelo is unmatched.”
In supporting Bank’s nomination, Heywood Washburn praised his friend’s leadership ability.
“It was my honor to propose Alan for the Tupelo Rotary Club and he was an excellent member who, because of his service, became president of the Tupelo club,” Washburn said. “Following this, he served as a district officer and then as governor of the District 6800. He continues his service to this organization as past district governor.”
An Air Force veteran of the Korean War, Bank earned degrees from Rider University in New Jersey and New York University Graduate Business School. He also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
He’s shared his business experience as a guest lecturer at the University of Mississippi Business School, and he’s been a guest economics teacher at Saltillo High School.
Bank is a member of Temple B’nai Israel in Tupelo. He and Marilynne have three daughters, Avery, Merritt Lee and Hillary, and three grandchildren, Skylar, Eliza and Wyatt.
Bank’s friends and family expect his work to continue.
“Alan Bank’s vocabulary does not include the word ‘no,’” said Kay Mathews, executive director of Regional Rehab. “In that he has the reputation of getting people to work together for superior results for the good of the community, he is sought after daily.”
After receiving his award, Banks praised the generosity and warmth of Southerners. “People in this area are just so mindful of charity,” he said. “I’m proud to be part of this spirit, and who knew, at 81 years of age, that there was another career waiting for me in this work?”