2011-09-28 / Front Page

‘Hank From The Bank’ Auffarth Remembered At Memorial Service

BY THOMAS COGAN

Hank Auffarth, banker, Queens Chamber of Commerce board member and former vice president, known as “Hank from the Bank”, collapsed and died August 22 while running on a beach. In a memorial service held September 20 at Terrace on the Park, several who knew him spoke before hundreds of others who also knew him and were there to mourn his sudden death at age 63. Those who spoke described him with adjectives ranging from “tireless” to “exasperating”, though everyone also said that he was exceptionally considerate, endlessly imaginative and simply lovable. Auffarth “got 90 minutes out of every hour”, one man said in remembering him.
Auffarth was a Bronx native whose long career in banking included many years with Chemical Bank and Chase and seven years, 2002 to 2009, as senior vice president, commercial markets, tri-state area, for Citibank. In the last two years of his life he had his own venture, Think Forward Financial, which made him switch from his “Hank from the Bank” moniker to a “Bank on Hank” theme. About as long as his career was his association with the Queens Chamber of Commerce and with the borough.
His marriage of some 40 years to his wife, Tisha, produced two daughters, a son and seven grandchildren. At the service, Linda Henley of The Child Center of New York in Woodside at 60-02 Queens Blvd., said he talked of his family constantly. The Child Center, to which he was equally devoted, was one of his favorite charities. Indeed, Auffarth was “a steamroller when he was on a mission”, Henley said. She summed up their relationship by saying, “I was lucky for over 30 years.”
Whether they had known Auffarth for 30 or 40 years or for only the last few, all the speakers said that soon after making his acquaintance they were astounded by the attention he could pay them or anyone else around himself.  Queens Chamber President Carol Conslato first met him in the early 1980s, found him immediately helpful in business matters and a personal friend soon afterward. He had a vast energy for organizing, she said (his motto was said to be, “Hank’s here, let’s get the party going!”), and planned events right up to the Chamber’s Centennial Gala on September 24, which he would never see. She said his recommendation was that the gala be held on a Saturday and that the chamber should hire a good band, since he loved to dance and so, therefore, everyone else should do likewise. He said the dress code should be black tie for men, which might have relieved anyone anxious he might recommend a costume ball; because in such matters, what Hank wanted, Hank got. (Another speaker said he swore that each crazy costume Hank persuaded him to wear to some function would be the last, but the following year would find him in a different but equally crazy one. As for Hank himself, one of the speakers remarked, “He had no shame”—a point seemingly underscored by the fact that among the pictures shown at the memorial service was one of him in a giant chicken outfit.
His intense enthusiasm could distract him from normal considerations, said Jonathan De Marco, who was the beneficiary of Hank’s support when he was jobless and applying for a position at Citibank; he said it was “amazing to watch him work, but scary to watch him drive”, since Auffarth decided that if he needed to work a mobile phone or other device, the steering wheel might have to get along without him. That behavior, or daybreak phone calls to those he thought should know about his latest bright ideas, could lead his friends to believe he was going too far.
Auffarth could win over his occasional doubters by acts of kindness and consideration, not only for those he knew but sometimes for total strangers. Samuel Freed told of Auffarth’s chance encounter with a woman who had been barred from taking a nursing examination in White Plains because she lacked proper identification. He asked where she lived; she said The Bronx; so he dropped what he was doing to drive her home to get ID, then return her to the testing room so she could take the exam, which she passed. Chris Colica said Auffarth was “more compassionate and had a bigger heart than anyone I’ve ever known”.
“The pain of losing Hank is as boundless as his energy,” mourner Philomena Freed concluded.

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