Singer, athlete Banks-Dobson ’11 dies in crash

Photo by Facebook.

Moira Banks-Dobson ’11, who friends and teachers described as a skilled singer, accomplished athlete and dedicated student, was killed in a car accident Tuesday in Berkshire County, Mass. She was 24.

At Yale, Banks-Dobson explored both artistic and athletic passions. She sang in two musical groups — Something Extra and Tangled Up in Blue (TUIB) — and also spent one year rowing for the varsity women’s crew team after walking on as a freshman. A member of Morse College, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and had intended to become a teacher after graduation.

“Moira was a gentle, sweet person who loved literature, music and nature,” Morse Dean Joel Silverman said in a Thursday email to the News. “We are all shocked and saddened by this terrible tragedy.”

While Banks-Dobson enrolled with the class of 2009, she completed her Yale career over six years and graduated in May 2011. She began teaching disabled students in Pittsfield, Mass., soon after graduation — her intended career path, her aunt Robin Dobson said.

Banks-Dobson began pursuing music as a freshman when she joined the a cappella group Something Extra as well as the folk singing group TUIB, said Rebecca Levi ’07, who sang in the group with Banks-Dobson.

Silverman said he once saw Banks-Dobson perform at a TUIB concert in Timothy Dwight College and recalled being moved by the “beauty of her voice.” Liza Angila ’09, who lived with Banks-Dobson during their time at Yale, described her as a “beautiful singer, beautiful person, a beautiful artist.”

During the April of her sophomore year, Banks-Dobson sang in a play called “Curse of the Starving Class,” the senior project of Brian Reed ’07 and Max Broude ’07. Broude said Banks-Dobson was “always incredibly sweet and friendly,” and also remembered her vocal talents.

Aside from joining Yale’s music community, Banks-Dobson also spent one year in the athletic sphere when she walked onto the women’s crew team and earned a spot in a varsity boat.

Though Banks-Dobson had not rowed crew for the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., where she attended high school, she had played a number of other sports there — cross-country, track, sailing and soccer, said Roberta Jenckes, a Hotchkiss spokeswoman. Banks-Dobson also sang in her high school’s gospel choir and cabaret troupe, said Sarah Tames, an English teacher at Hotchkiss and Bank-Dobson’s advisor.

While most Hotchkiss students enrolled in five courses per semester, Bank-Dobson regularly chose to take six, and won numerous awards for her academic and extracurricular pursuits, Tames said. Charles Frankenbach, Banks-Dobson’s English teacher of two years at Hotchkiss, said she was a passionate English student.

While Banks-Dobson initially attended private boarding school Hotchkiss as a day student, Tames said Banks-Dobson’s warm personality helped her bond with the boarding school community “as if she [were] a resident.”

“Moira was truly extraordinary, both in her generosity of spirit and her genuine humility,” Tames said. “She had talents that were too much for one heart. She just was an amazing child. There was something about her willingness to be alive that is so tragically cut off now.”

Banks-Dobson was killed in a five-vehicle crash allegedly caused by a repeat drunk driver who has been charged with operating under the influence, the Berkshire Eagle reported Wednesday.

She is survived by her parents Anne Banks and Edwin Dobson, and her siblings, Ben Banks-Dobson, Ted Dobson and Melany Dobson. A service will be held Sunday, and Banks-Dobson’s family is also planning to commemorate her 25th birthday at a March 11 memorial.


  • Fxrsjoe

    She sounds like a beautiful person – it is crazy that a 5th repeat drunk driver is responsible for her death – I hope justice is served.

  • Sara

    This is a tragedy. Condolences to the families and friends.

    Fxrsjoe, I agree justice should be served but it rarely is. The fact that justice is never served in cases like these is absolutely infuriating. Nowadays, there are more texting-related deaths than drunk drivers, but nobody is ever issued a ticket for texting while driving and the car industry is now incorporating telephones right into the driver dashboards. Driving deaths and injuries should be treated at the same level as homicides or stabbings, but in most cities, fewer than 1% of them are even investigated or prosecuted.

    More locally, how many of the literally dozens of Yale affiliates killed and injured around campus by vehicles over the past 10 years have received true justice? Speak with the victim’s families and ask them – it seems that none have. And just like the fact that repeat drunk drivers aren’t taken off the roads and teenagers can text and drive with abandon, nobody at Yale is doing anything to prevent the similar tragedies that take place here on a regular basis.

    Though we like to call these “accidents” in fact they are extremely predictable – how many tens of thousands die each year due to car crashes? Literally tens of millions of people die or are permanently injured worldwide every year, and about 90% of the million plus deaths are people NOT driving the vehicle. Justice isn’t served, and car industries and governments are never held responsible, because people call these “accidents” and most frequently it is the poor, elderly, and children who are killed.

    Bottom line is, when we lose someone in the prime of their life due to a supposed “accident”, that’s when it is especially important that our community speak up and demand changes.

    Mother Against Drunk Driving

  • River_Tam

    RIP Moira. I love you.

  • ClaireBerry

    Thank you, Dan. This is a lovely tribute to Moira.

  • Goldie08

    Never knew her but saw her around Morse. I always get depressed by these stories. Forgetting the cause, the takeaway for me, always, is that life is fleeting. Call your parents. Tell someone you love them and you care. Do it now.