The average person will come in contact with tens of thousands of people over a lifetime, remaining friends with just a few dozen. And then there are those irreplaceable few who leave such a powerful impression on you that they’re forever etched in your memory.
“Nothing could describe Mia more accurately than as one of those people,” longtime colleague and friend Jonathan Bell said Sunday morning to a crowd of about 100 people mourning 54-year-old Mia Maria Banks, vice president of casino operations for The Venetian.
Her memorial service was held Sunday at Davis Funeral Home on Eastern Avenue, a week after she was gunned down in what Las Vegas police described as a targeted act of workplace violence during a company picnic hosted by The Venetian.
Banks started her career in the gaming industry in 1999 as a table games dealer and worked her way up to the senior leadership role she held at the time of her death.
She had been living in Las Vegas for nearly 20 years. She moved from Virginia to seek better job opportunities after graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. For a brief time, Banks also interned at NASA.
She was born Sept. 2, 1963, in South Korea, immigrating to the United States with her parents when she was 9. Banks was a hard worker who loved to travel and shop in her free time.
But her career took a distant second to her love for her daughters, friends and family said Sunday during the service.
“Your mom was so proud of everything you accomplished,” Bell said into the microphone, glancing at Banks’ daughters, Angela and Rachel Lee.
On Sunday, she was remembered for her caring and compassionate nature, which poured over into her work.
“You see, to all of us, Mia was the motherly figure we all relied on,” Bell said. “When you met Mia for the first time, it didn’t matter who you were. It didn’t even matter if you spoke the same language. She made a connection and found common ground with everybody.”
But if you could describe Banks with just one word, Bell said, it was “unique.”
“Describing her appearance as always being eloquent would be an understatement,” he said.
One Sunday evening, Bell recalled, after a particularly long workweek, he ran into a local Target with stubble on his face, uncombed hair and wrinkled clothes.
“I received a text message a few minutes later from guess who?” Bell said as the crowd laughed.
He paused for a moment before continuing.
“She on the other hand looked like she was doing some shopping after just stepping out of a salon prior to heading off to a Vogue photo shoot.”
Banks’ family and friends threw their heads back in laughter.
“Always, always,” a man in the crowd, smiling and nodding in agreement, whispered to no one in particular. He was clenching a crumpled tissue in his right hand.
A week after her death, Bell promised to uphold his colleague’s legacy — one of kindness, working diligently to unite people under shared values.
“Mia’s reputation as a senior leader in the gaming industry is unsurpassed. And her memory will always be upheld in this industry with the highest degree of professionalism,” he said. “I can assure you, Mia, that you set us up for success.”
Over stifled sobs, Bell looked out into the crowd and said, “The Mias in this world are few and far between.”
Banks was laid to rest Sunday. She leaves behind her daughters, Angela and Rachel Lee; mother, Rosa; brother, Eric; and her nephews.
The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.