By Chris Ingram
The Tampa Tribune
Published Sunday, May 27, 2012
Charles “Charlie” Banks has lived in Tampa since 1959, when Nick Nuccio was mayor and Hillsborough County had just under 400,000 residents. Charlie turned 94 this year but looks younger than he is. His mind is still sharp, and he’s still interested in exploring new ideas in business, pondering politics and discussing ways to make the world better.
Charlie makes an impression the moment you meet him, with hisgentle blue eyes, sincere smile, charming Southern accent, neatly matched suit and trademark colorful bowties. But what makes him a true gentleman is his genuine interest in other people: He’s always full of questions about the lives of those he meets and never misses an opportunity to compliment or help others.
In an age full of road rage, 24-hour scream-a-thons on cable TV news, few positive stories in the newspaper, and political candidates engaged in personal destruction of opponents, Charlie is a breath of fresh air providing hope for the rest of us.
After a stint in the Navy during World War II, Charlie moved to New Orleans, where he was a small-business entrepreneur and then a political appointee in the administration of President Eisenhower, serving as a regional manager for the Veterans Administration. He later moved to Tampa to be the new general manager for Mutual of New York’s office.
During one of our many talks over lunch or coffee, Charlie once told me, “I’m a heavy gambler.” I quickly conjured visions of this gentleman in a seersucker suit standing at a blackjack table at the Hard Rock at 2 a.m. with a scotch in his hand and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Seeing the surprised look on my face, he quickly added with a chuckle: “I mean a risk-taker in business — not playing cards.” For the record, Charlie doesn’t smoke, and I’ve never seen him drink; he is, however, known to wear seersucker.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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