Nashville 1

Terry R. Bankert

January 20, 1951 ~ November 11, 2021 (age 70)

Obituary

Terry R. Bankert of Flint, MI passed away peacefully with his devoted wife, Lynn M. Sorenson, and his loyal companion, Bailiff, by his side. Mr. Bankert dedicated his entire life to the City of Flint and its citizens, and it is where he took his first breath of life, as well as his last breath of life, in his beloved hometown of Flint.

He was a skilled listener, problem solver, mediator, leader, politician, advocate, public official, an attorney, an activist, a lifelong academic and avid reader, a writer, radio talk-show host/guest, a regular public television guest, a blogger, a great dancer, an artist, an icon, the truest friend, and an absolute gentleman. His love for Flint and his community can be felt across the entire city, beyond every barrier, different or indifferent, and despite the socio-economics, ethnicities or political affiliations that commonly cause division and separation, he just didn’t recognize. He rather focused on what we had in common. He was dedicated to right every wrong and correct every injustice. He worked with the National League of Cities regarding complaints waged by the public, improvement of city services, and assure transparency in leadership. He was a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks where he worked diligently for the accountability of those serving in the government.

His public service started at a young age by serving his country an E6 in the US Army Reserve for six years. During that time he served his community on the Citywide Advisory Committee and in 1974 spent countless hours on the City of Flint Charter Revision Committee updating and improving consistent operation and fair application of government and services. He served as the Executive Director of the Democratic Party, and later as the Division Director of the Genesee and Lapeer County United Way. He spent several years as Vice President at Flint Neighborhood Improvement and Preservation Project (NIPP). His service and unique style captured the attention of many officials and civic leaders in the city who drafted and appointed Mr. Bankert as the clerk for the City of Flint. He served in that capacity for several years when he was again recruited to fulfill the position as City of Flint Ombudsman. There he served as the liaison between the citizens and the city, mediating the shortcomings of any department function or delivery of any public service. He resolved issues as simple as unlawful water turnoffs, or illegally towed cars, to the more serious matter, police brutality. He became very interested in the issue and he wrote and spoke extensively about the use and abuse of police force. He served on the panel for the State of Michigan and the Int’l Assoc of Civilian Oversight of Police Officers. He traveled to LA twice to discuss the problem with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and was acknowledged by the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division and the Attorney General on Federal Criminal Civil Rights Statues. While acting as the Ombudsman Mr. Bankert attended Cooley Law School earning a Juris Doctorate Degree. Thereafter he retired from Public Office and entered the Practice of Law where he practiced in Genesee and surrounding counties specializing in Family Law for almost 30 years. He and his wife, Lynn, worked side by side in his private practice, until the untimely loss of his vision.

 

The impact and change caused by Mr. Bankert in this community will never be fully known. He encouraged others to become more involved, and inspired many that went on to seek positions where change is made.  He advised many on how to organize, speak out, fight against injustice, influence change, and run for office. He wrote a campaign manual and generously advocated to those that too, wanted to make a difference. He and Lynn, who owned a union company that manufactured political signs and other products, traveled across lower Michigan holding campaign workshops with many incumbents and challengers for office, and various issue-oriented campaigns around the state.  He never became too important to knock on doors, or post signs. He regularly attended neighborhood meetings across the city and was a constant at City Council Meetings. He took on issues of individuals, causes to certain groups, injustices to society, and detriments to man.  Much was given and gained by him but will never surpass what he received. Flint people were truly Terry’s family.

Mr. Bankert was a very humble man and never sought credit although offered a “place at the table” or positions of honor, he preferred a place in the back. Mr. Bankert’s life was unconventional from the beginning, spending an early part of his life in foster care. From there perhaps a seed, the catalyst for his drive to help others. A true “Bad Childhood-Good Life” of sorts, of which he never spoke. He had a tremendous calling for others and felt an enormous debt to his community.

Mr. Bankert communicated statewide on Michigan Family Law though his Blog “Michigan Family Law Advocate” and wrote newsletters under the same name. He hosted a call-in radio program called “Know the Law” every Saturday morning for 7+ years. He had blogs known as “Terry Talks” and “Good Morning Flint” for discussing topics of interest. He hosted “DIY” divorce workshops. He also wrote for the Courier, and contributed to many others. Regularly over the years and until just recently, reporters from local television media, newsprint, and radio program directors, sought him for his position or opinion on a wide variety of issues. They relied on Terry for understanding so they could educate their listening audience. He answered his phone 24/7 and would meet with any client, any hopeful, any community member, any politician, and any of many that sought his “spot on” advice, his encouragement, his opinion, his intellect, or his perspective. He acted as a consultant for the “Get Out The Vote” political program and “Voter Education” for the Nat’l Assoc of Pastors with Minority Congregations. He consulted with proponents of various millages, individuals currently in office and those that would like to be. The haves and the have-nots, the has been’s, wanna-be’s, should have been’s, and could have been’s, all had equal access to him.

He had a thorough understanding of the internet back when it was a mere concept and developed a large presence to further advance his service to the community, and as a vehicle to communicate with individuals experiencing a crisis in their family. Mr. Bankert became known for his savvy, and was approached by many on how they too could best utilize this thing called the internet. Whatever knowledge he had he generously shared with whomever was curious.

In addition to all aspects of community service, Mr. Bankert did take time for other interests. He bought and sold url’s and .com domains, at one time having almost 100 url’s relating to politics, law, individuals, organizations, catchphrases, and topics of human and mankind concerns.  He was encouraged by his wife in the recent years to recreate his desk pad doodles with watercolors and acrylics to which he became prolific in expressing abstract human suffering, confusion and desperation. Art was his morning routine while honing in on Lynn’s piano playing routine. He was first to leave but shortly thereafter together they began their day inundated with the issues that plagued clients, their family and his community.

For the last 14 years Mr. Bankert was a caregiver to his half-sister Christina Comfort (Flint), rarely missing a weekend. Known as a constant sidekick, she took on her physical challenges just to be with her brother. She will absolutely miss him the most.

Thirteen years ago, Terry began mentoring a young man, Patrick D. Powell, who he literally met on the street. He and Lynn were immediately smitten, soon thereafter taking Patrick into their lives and eventually into their home. Yet another unconventional display of Mr. Bankert’s infamous kindness. Patrick was a blessing to the Bankert’s and familiar to many in the community. His foster son survives, leaving a wrenching loss to him.

Terry is survived by his wife Lynn, who generously afforded him freedom to have the vagabond lifestyle to share his ministry, and live his purpose in and for his community.

Mr. Bankert has a daughter, Lorelee Bankert of NYC, who he deeply adored and was very proud.

In addition to his half-sister Christine Comfort, Terry also has a half-brother, Leslie Schmier of Tennessee, and several nieces and nephews.

It would be remiss to not thank the community for their dependence on him, expectations of him, and their gratitude toward him. Mr. Bankert leaves an incalculable number of friends, and many contemporaries he truly enjoyed working with on the issues. A special thanks to long-time friends and colleagues Hon. Geoffery Neithercutt, Hon. Duncan M. Beagle, and very special friends, Allan and Diana who were by his side until the end.

 There will be a celebration of Mr. Bankert’s life on November 30, 2021, from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm in the gallery at Greater Flint Arts Council located at 816 S. Saginaw St. Flint, MI 48502.  Tributes from the community will be expressed between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests Memorials in his name be directed to Big Brother’s Big Sister’s of Flint, Pets in Peril, or Eastside Mission.

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