Pat Banks, 61, of Philadelphia, who was an assistant systems editor and before that an editorial assistant for The Inquirer, died of lung cancer Monday, Aug. 24, at Einstein Medical Center.

Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in West Oak Lane and graduated from St. Hubert's Catholic School.

Ms. Banks worked for the Hebrew National meat-products firm and a publishing company in Fort Washington before joining The Inquirer in 1982.

Her daughter, Clio, said it was a family joke that "we would always buy Hebrew National [hot dogs] because she knew what went in them."

Ms. Banks worked on the city desk in the 1980s at the North Broad Street building. She answered the phones at a time when there were lights flashing on multiple incoming calls and it was necessary to yell across the newsroom to alert the call's recipient.

Despite the hectic atmosphere and the exacting tasks she was asked to perform, she remained calm.

"I never saw her in a bad mood. She was a real sweetheart," said Sam Wood, a former Inquirer editorial assistant and now a reporter and editor for Philly.com.

"Pat was a wonderful colleague," said Inquirer editor William K. Marimow. "We worked together when I was a city desk reporter in the 1980s, and later when I was city editor. With her warm smile and unflappable disposition, she was an ideal person to help keep an often-chaotic newsroom on an even keel."

Sally A. Downey, a former editorial assistant and reporter, now retired, said: "Pat was smart and sassy. I remember when we worked together as clerks, later called editorial assistants. She was cheerful even when we were loading boxes on hand trucks and doing other scut work."

Ms. Banks did a stint as editorial assistant on the foreign desk, helping The Inquirer's correspondents stay connected to their home base and arranging for their needs.

"When I was foreign editor of The Inquirer, Pat was the desk's editorial assistant," said Robert J. Rosenthal, who later became the newspaper's editor and is now director of the Center for Investigative Reporting. "She more than put up with me and my often-bumbling attempts to understand the nuances and roles of suddenly being a 'boss.'

"I don't know how many times she would let me know what I had to know. Pat understood that the entire desk was responsible for the wonderfully talented and eclectic correspondents in the field."

When Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., a predecessor of Philadelphia Media Network, turned its focus to Philly.com in the 2000s, Ms. Banks worked as an assistant on the online desk, helping to keep the website updated with breaking stories under then-online editor Sherry L. Howard.

Ms. Banks also took on an active role as a designated trainer, or "super user," when the company embraced the Hermes publishing system. She was patient with workers who could not grasp the technology easily.

In 2005, Ms. Banks accepted a buyout offer from The Inquirer and went to work for an advertising agency in Center City, distributing products to retail outlets.

As she became ill three years ago, Ms. Banks arranged to work for short periods and then rest. She was hospitalized in July and fought her disease stoically and quietly, her friends said.

As a mother, Ms. Banks was determined to take advantage of every possible opportunity for her daughter.

"She always tried to get me in every afternoon program. Sometimes I didn't like it, and she'd look for another one," her daughter said.

Above all, Ms. Banks was flexible. "Even when I wanted to be a car mechanic, she was very happy about that. It was something I enjoyed," said her daughter, who works for Hertz near Philadelphia International Airport.

"What I remember most is her quick wit, joyous laugh, her longtime fan-girl status for the music group Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and her love for her daughter," said Kristin E. Holmes, an Inquirer reporter.

Surviving, besides her daughter, are her husband, Tom Young; a sister; and three nieces.

Plans for a memorial service in mid-September were pending.

bcook@phillynews.com

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