Fitzhugh Lee Banks
Written by Shirley File Robbins
Dr. Fitzhugh Lee Banks was born September 25, 1885 in Wolftown,
Virginia, the last of five children of James William and Cornelia Burnett
Banks. Educated at Randolph Macon Academy in Bedford, VA, and the Medical
College of Richmond, Class of 1909, he married Mary Boardman Smith, born
in Madison County, Virginia July 19, 1887, on October 19, 1910. Mrs.
Banks was the daughter of Francis Percival Smith and Matilda Ella Simms.
Dr. Banks opened his first practice of medicine at Gordonsville, Orange
County, Virginia. Fitz and Mary’s three children, William Smith Banks
(1911), Francis McRae Banks (1913 – 1982), and Shirley Hamilton Banks
(1915 – 1990 ) were born there.
In 1922 Dr. Banks moved to West Virginia to become the company doctor
for the Slab Fork Coal Company. Then, after practicing in Maben,
WV, he settled in Beckley as an Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat specialist.
He had gone to New York City, living with a medical school classmate, to
be trained in that specialty. He received his 50 year pin from the Medical
College of Virginia in 1959. He had been in practice as a general practitioner
for 20 years, and an Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist for 30 years.
Dr. Banks was a member of the West Virginia Medical Association, the
Black Knight Country Club, The Elks Club, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
He was known for his love of literature and history, particularly the Civil
War period, his passion for pike fishing, and stories of his ancestors.
He was the great- great- great grandson of Dr. Thomas Walker and Joshua
Fry. Dr. Walker was a physician, surveyor, explorer and statesman.
He is known to have traveled the Raleigh County area in about 1750.
He was also a guardian for Thomas Jefferson. Dr. Banks would tell that
with pride; most who heard the story thought he said “gardener for Thomas
Jefferson”. Fitz, as he was called by family and friends, always
laughed at that comment.
He died in Richmond, Virginia on February 27, 1966.