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The Loss of a Queen—Iris Banister

Iris Banister

The passing of Iris Banister, known as the "Queen Mother" of Rochester, has left a void in the hearts of many in the community. Her contributions as an educator and pioneer have touched the lives of countless individuals. 

Queen Mother passed away on Tuesday, March 11. She dedicated over 30 years of her life to the Rochester City School District, serving in multiple capacities such as teaching, counseling, and administration. Additionally, she was actively involved in various local boards and nonprofit organizations, including her role as the former Chair of the Greater Rochester Martin Luther King Jr. Commission. 

In the wake of her passing, social media has become a platform for admirers of Queen Mother to express their condolences and pay tribute to her legacy. The messages of gratitude and sorrow have flooded various online platforms. Some reflected on the widespread impact of her work and the deep sense of loss felt by those who knew her. 

Many have taken to Facebook to share stories of her kindness and dedication in the classroom, highlighting the lasting impression she left on their lives. Students shared heartfelt anecdotes and expressed their gratitude for the lasting influence of Queen Mother in their lives. Her commitment to bridging divides and fostering unity has resonated with many, who credit her mentorship for their own successes and personal growth.

Queen Mother's contributions as an educator cannot be overstated. As a teacher, she inspired generations of students to reach their full potential and pursue their dreams. 

In honor of her memory, community members have come together to organize virtual memorials and fundraisers, showcasing the widespread admiration and respect for the amazing pioneer. Local leaders like Rochester Mayor Malik Evans and Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, have also paid tribute to her contributions, recognizing her as a true pioneer and role model in Rochester. 

Queen Mother's son Simeon Banister paid tribute to his mother as a woman who “fought valiantly for the most vulnerable in our community, she stayed the course, educating countless individuals, and she held fast to her faith, evident in her daily actions.” 

Simeon, President and CEO of Rochester Area Community Foundation, reflected on the remarkable life of his mother. He recalled her as being a force of nature, a loving mother figure, and a dedicated educator who made a lasting impact on the lives of those she touched.


“Her legacy will continue to inspire others to follow in her footsteps and strive for positive change in their communities.”

Beyond her role as an educator, Banister was a pioneer in the community, advocating for social justice and equality. She was known for her unwavering commitment to empowering others and creating positive change. Her efforts to bridge divides and foster unity have been praised by many, who attribute their success to her guidance and mentorship. 

Queen Mother's profound impact on those around her was an unwavering dedication to education and advocacy for social justice. She was a beacon of hope and empowerment in the community of Rochester. 

Her legacy will live on through her three sons, family, friends, and endless numbers of community members she touched throughout her life. 

Funeral arrangements are still pending.


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