Bertram "Bert" Bank (born September 1, 1914 in Montgomery - died June 22, 2009 in Tuscaloosa) was a World War II veteran, a member of the Alabama Legislature, and a long-time Tuscaloosa radio broadcaster.
Bank was the son of a miner who relocated to Tuscaloosa County in the mid 1920s. He lettered in football, basketball and track in high school and won a state title in the low hurdles. He declined a football scholarship to Alabama citing a history of injuries suffered on the field. He did befriend classmate Paul Bryant, though.
That fall Bank hitchhiked to Chicago to see Cubs outfielder Riggs Stephenson play against the Yankees in the 1932 World Series and witnessed Babe Ruth's infamous called-shot to center field in game 3. He did get to meet Stephenson after the game.
Bank was a 1940 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law and lived in Tuscaloosa for most of his life. Following ROTC training he joined the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1941. He was captured by Japanese troops in 1942. During 33 months of imprisonment in the Phillipines he was one of the survivors of the brutal Bataan Death March. Following his rescue from Cabanatuan on January 28, 1945 he spent two yeas in a military hospital recovering from the effects of malnourishment. He never fully recovered his vision, hearing and sense of smell. He was discharged in 1947 as an Air Force major. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. In 2003 Bank received the National Veterans Award. He was inducted into the Alabama Military Hall of Honor in 2008.
Back in Tuscaloosa, Bank bought WTBC-AM and founded WUOA-FM, stations that served as a training ground for numerous broadcasters over the years. An avid sports fan, Bank launched the Alabama Football Network in the early 1950s and managed it until he retired in 1985, serving as producer emeritus until his death. He attended every Crimson Tide football game, save three, over a 49 year span. His station was the first to broadcast Crimson Tide basketball games. He was inducted into the Alabama Communication Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Alabama Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2008.
From 1966 to 1974 he was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, then served one term in the Alabama Senate. He was a floor leader for Governors George Wallace, Lurleen Wallace and Albert Brewer. He ran unsuccessfully for Lietenant Governor of Alabama in 1978. During his legislative career he supported legislation expanding benefits. He also introduced bills to criminalize burning the American flag or destroying draft cards and to require patriotism to be taught in public schools. It was Bank who introduced the bill that added the name of Bear Bryant to Tuscaloosa's Denny Stadium in 1966. In 1972 he was appointed by District Court Judge Frank Johnson to oversee the implementation of court-ordered patient care improvements at Bryce Hospital and Partlow Hospital.
Bank died in 2009. He was preceded in death by his third wife, Emma, and was survived by two sons and four grandchildren. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Tuscaloosa.
- Bank, Bert (1945) Back from the Living Dead. self-published
- Deas, Tommy (June 23, 2009) "A walk through history." Tuscaloosa News
- Grayson, Wayne (June 24, 2009) "Bert Bank 'lived with uncommon valor'." Tuscaloosa News
- Carlton, Bob (June 24, 2009) "Bert Bank, founder of Alabama Football Network and survivor of Bataan Death March, dies at 94." Birmingham News
- 1914 births
- 2009 deaths
- Alabama School of Law alumni
- US Air Force officers
- World War II veterans
- Purple Heart recipients
- Bronze Star recipients
- Radio station executives
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- State legislators
- State senators
- Alabama Military Hall of Honor
- Alabama Communication Hall of Fame
- Alabama Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame
- Evergreen burials