Gary Eubanks, 68, was born in Marietta in 1945 and was known for being one of the largest private property owners in Marietta. He was also a dedicated father of two, grandfather of five, deacon at First Baptist Church of Marietta and a longtime member of the Rotary Club of Marietta.
“Dad was a wonderful father,” said Eubanks’ daughter, Catherine Eubanks-Carter. “He was always kind, patient, thoughtful and sincere. He treated everyone he met with respect. I will miss him very much.”
Eubanks’ son and business partner, James Eubanks, will sorely miss his father.
“He was my hero, my mentor, my business partner and my friend,” he said.
A private burial service is planned for today at Kennesaw Memorial Park. The family is holding a funeral service for anyone who wishes to pay respects at 2 p.m. today at First Baptist Church. There will be a reception afterward in the fellowship hall.
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin first met Gary Eubanks when the two were children. He worked alongside him in his law practice for about 15 years.
“I will remember that he was a man of integrity, dedication and a man that took no shortcuts,” Tumlin said. “He followed the rules and that made him a great mentor and inspiration to be around.”
Tumlin said their parents were good friends.
“It was a privilege to know Gary Eubanks for over 60 years,” Tumlin said. “He was just first class and I treasured his friendship and what he meant to our community.”
Other partners in the law firm, Hap Smith and Don Smith, said they too were saddened by the passing of their long-time friend and co-worker.
Hap Smith, who is also the voice of the Marietta High School Blue Devils, first met Eubanks in 1976 when he began practicing law with Custer, Smith & Manning at age 25. In 1980, he joined Eubanks’ and Don Smith’s firm.
“I had no idea how fortunate I was,” he said, about the first time he met Eubanks. “Gary immediately became my personal mentor and patiently taught me how to practice law the right way. He was a perfectionist and he taught me to be extremely detailed in everything I did.”
Hap Smith last saw Eubanks when he and Don Smith went to visit him in his family’s home a few weeks ago.
“We both expressed to Gary how much he meant to us and what a great law partner he was. But more than anything else, Gary showed me how to be a better person in life,” Hap Smith said. “He was generous, compassionate and considerate. I will miss him for the rest of my life.”
Don Smith said he enjoyed that same visit with his friend of almost 40 years and felt like while Eubanks could not speak to them at the time, he understood every word.
“We were trying to tell him how much we appreciated him as a partner,” Don Smith said. “I will remember him as one of the best partners I have ever had in my 50 years of practice. He was an outstanding Christian layman and lawyer.”
Gary Bottoms of The Bottoms Group in Marietta never worked with Eubanks like Don Smith and Hap Smith, but he did speak to the longtime Cobb resident many times when seeking advice on real estate ventures.
“He was a gentleman that I would describe as being wise,” Bottoms said. “We got together a few times over the years, specifically so I could ask his advice for things, and he’d always sit and listen carefully … then he would clearly give his opinion and he helped me tremendously.”
Bottoms knew Eubanks for 30 years.
“I first met him in the Marietta Rotary Club,” Bottoms said. “He was a past president a couple of years before me so there was a little bit of a bond there.”
Eubanks’ contribution to the community
Eubanks, son of the late Hazel and J. Robert Eubanks, was born in Marietta but his family moved to Atlanta when he was 5 years old so that he could attend Westminster School.
Upon graduating from high school, he attended Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and later graduated from the University of Georgia’s law school.
After earning a law degree, Eubanks pursued his lifelong passion for trains by working for Southern Railway in Washington, D.C., but after his daughter was born, Eubanks and his wife Virginia moved back to Marietta.
He practiced law with Don Smith and Hap Smith until the mid-1990s, when he started Wharton Management Inc., which manages commercial retail and office space primarily in downtown Marietta.
The Eubanks family owns 140,000 square feet of property and his son, James Eubanks, works closely with the company.
He will be remembered for many of his real estate purchases and construction projects.
During his law career, he and his partners converted the former trolley barn that once housed the trolleys of the Atlanta Northern Railway Co., which ran from Marietta to Atlanta, into a law office at 94 Church St.
In 2009, he also constructed a pedestrian bridge between two of his downtown properties over the CSX railroad.
In addition to his law career and company, Eubanks was a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Marietta and Marietta First Baptist Church for 39 years and served on the board of directors for “Baptists Today News Journal,” a publication focusing on keeping church leaders well informed of current issues impacting their ministries.
He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Catherine and Steven Carter, and their children, Reese and Savannah; his son, James Eubanks of Marietta and his wife Julie Eubanks and their children, Charlotte, Thomas and Vivian; and his sisters and brothers, Mildred Massengale of Fayetteville, Laura Brown and Robert Eubanks, both of Marietta, and T. Marshall Eubanks of Clifton, Va.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Eubanks’ memory may be made to “Baptists Today,” P.O. Box 6318, Macon, GA, 31208, or to the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, 2829 Cherokee St., Kennesaw, GA 30144.