She was 39.
The transgender Banks, a self-described "big girl" who loved to perform, saw herself as a role model, pageant coordinator Hemish Gervis said.
"She was really happy to have won the crown, and she wanted to use the opportunity to prove to other people that they can do what they want to do, regardless of their sexual orientation, or size," Gervis said.
Born in Puerto Rico, Banks' family moved to San Fernando, Trinidad, as a child. At 14, her family relocated to New York, settling in the Woodstock section of the Bronx.
She learned hairstyling at the Wilfred Academy cosmetology school in New York, and worked at salons on the upper East Side.
Her favorite place to perform was Escuelita, a gay club on 39th St. where she often took the stage lip-syncing to Rihanna in recent years.
Her mother, Sybil Browne, said Banks loved to joke around by doing voice impressions on the phone.
"She would disguise her voice, and I would say, 'Don't play with me!' And she would laugh, and she would laugh."
"She just loved to laugh and smile," she said.
Besides her mom, Banks is survived by her two brothers, Dave and Roger Browne. Her father, Byron Browne, died in 1992.
The Viewing/Funeral Service for Jennifer Banks (the reigning Ms. Gay Caribbean USA) was held on Friday, 24th June at the Unity Funeral Chapel - 2352-54 8th Ave., New York, NY
While details are still emerging about the exact circumstances surrounding her death, information available suggest that she died from medical complications to a sudden illness at a hospital in the Bronx.
Ms. Banks, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the pageant, successfully won the crown in a field of six contestants.
“Jennifer Banks was one of the most dedicated contestants ever to participate in the pageant. She will be remembered for her commitment to the goals and objectives of
what the pageant is about,” said Hemish Gervis, pageant coordinator.
With her passing, the organizers plan to include a special tribute in her honor at this year’s pageant in September.