David Henry Gambrell ’49

David Henry Gambrell '49

David Henry Gambrell died peacefully at home on May 6, 2021, after a brief period of declining health.

A proud and lifelong resident of Atlanta, David graduated from public schools there, and then from Davidson College (1949), and Harvard Law School(1952)with honors. The summer after law school graduation, David met Luck Flanders of Swainsboro, Georgia at the National Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the following year they married and spent an extraordinary 62 years together until Luck’s death in 2015.

David began his legal career as an associate partner at King and Spalding in Atlanta. In 1963, he co-founded the firm that became Gambrell and Stolz, which merged in 2007 with what is now Baker Donelson.

During his long professional career, David was elected to serve as President of the Atlanta Bar Association (1965-66) and President of the State Bar of Georgia ((1967-68). He was awarded the State Bar’s Distinguished Service Award (2002), The Atlanta Bar’s Leadership Award (2007), and the Outstanding Service Award of the American Bar Association Foundation in 2012. David made time for civic life as well.

Among the Boards and Commissions where he dedicated time and expertise were The Atlanta Legal Aid Society, The Atlanta Mission, Habitat for Humanity, The Carter Center, and The Buckhead Coalition.

In the 1960s and 1970s, David was active in political life, helping then-State Senator Jimmy Carter in his gubernatorial races, and serving as Chair of the Georgia Democratic Party in 1970. In 1971, he was appointed by then- Governor Carter to fill the unexpired term of US Senator Richard B. Russell.

While in Washington, David led the successful effort to pass a $250 million loan guarantee to keep the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation from bankruptcy. At the time, Lockheed was a major Georgia employer and critical to the state’s economy. Not being re-elected to the Senate, David returned to his law practice in Atlanta and took the opportunity to spend more time with family, friends and his interests, which included history and genealogy.

His lifelong curiosity about family history led him to remote towns around the world. All of this culminated in his book, “Georgia Girl,” which focused on the life and times of his ancestor Ann Grace in the years leading up to the Civil War. David visited all 159 counties in Georgia and maintained friendships statewide.

He spent many hours hunting and fishing in his adopted stomping grounds in Emanuel and Jefferson Counties, and thoroughly enjoyed bringing home wild turkeys to cook for Thanksgiving at Cooter Creek Farm. He also had an agrarian streak that inspired him to cultivate his side yard in Atlanta, startling visitors with urban cornrows and grapevines. For a while, he kept bees, and later made wine in his Buckhead Atlanta kitchen.

As a father David was patient and rarely heavy-handed, believing that his children could learn more from making their own decisions and mistakes. As a friend and co-worker, he was a trusted advisor, showing malice toward no one, ever. He was an active member of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as an Elder for many years and taught a men’s Bible Class. David moved to Lenbrook Retirement Community after the death of his wife, Luck. There he was able to spend time with many new and old friends, including Jeanne Martin. David and Jeanne married in 2016, and had an active and happy life together attending social and cultural activities, traveling and playing golf whenever possible.

In addition to his wife Jeanne, David is survived by his children Luck Davidson, Henry Gambrell, Alice Gambrell (David Rollo), and Mary G. Rolinson (Frank). He also was proud grandfather to Dave, Charlotte (Tyler Quinn), and Kathleen Davidson, and Callum and Duncan Rolinson.

The Gambrell family extends deep appreciation to David’s Executive Assistant, Bonnie Johnson, who worked with him for a remarkable 33 years. Alisa Bingham and Karen Pittman were constantly there to give David love and care during their many years of helping the entire family.

For those who wish to make a donation in memory of David’s life, you may send gifts to Atlanta Mission, Potter’s House, P.O. Box 20017, Atlanta, Ga., 30325 or go online to https://Atlantamission.org/ways-to-give/

Due to the health restrictions of Covid-19, the visitation and service for David at H M Pattersons Oglethorpe Hill on Wednesday, May 12 will be small, and will follow mask and social distancing protocols.

Only 100 people can be safely seated at the service and this will be strictly enforced for the health and safety of all. Please consider celebrating David’s life with the family at a later date, when your health and safety can be assured. We want to thank the many friends who have expressed their love and concern for David in countless ways over the past few months.

Copyright (c) 2021, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ernest Boyd Hunter ’49

Ernest Boyd Hunter '49

Ernest Boyd Hunter, Jr., 97, died on April 23, 2021 at Sharon Towers.

He was born April 20, 1924, in Wilmington, NC to Helen Dunn Creasy Hunter and Ernest Boyd Hunter, Sr. Ernest graduated from Central High School in 1942 and from Davidson College in 1949. His college was interrupted by his army service in World War II.

While in the army he spent six months in the Specialized Training Program at the University of Connecticut. From there he was transferred to the 78th Division, served in Germany for four months and was captured during the Battle of the Bulge. Ernest was a POW in Germany for four months before being liberated by the Russians at the end of the war.

Ernest began his work career with the First Union National Bank of Charlotte, ending his work there in 1976 in the Trust Department. From the bank he become the Executive Director of Sharon Towers and retired in 1994. Upon retirement, he and his wife, Helen Stout Hunter, spent a short-term mission year in Sitka, Alaska, working at Sheldon Jackson College.

Ernest was an active church member all his life. He grew up in Covenant Presbyterian and served in many capacities there until in 1994, he and Helen became charter members of South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church. In both churches, he served as an elder and as clerk of session for a period of time. In addition to his church service, Ernest was active in many related organizations, as well as fifty years in the Charlotte Civitan Club.

In addition to his wife, Helen, Ernest is survived by a stepson, The Rev. Christopher Handley and his wife, Dottie, of Florence, SC and a stepdaughter, Helen Handley Bunzey and her husband, Danny of Raleigh, NC and seven step-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Helen Fidler Herndon of Charlotte and two nieces, Cynthia Fidler Farlow of Indian Rock Beach, FL and Beth Fidler Morgan of Chesapeake, VA.

A graveside service will be held at 2:00 PM on Sunday, May 2, 2021 in Elmwood Cemetery, 700 West 6th Street. 

Memorials may be made to South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church, 8601 Bryant Farms Road, Charlotte, NC, 28277 or to the Residents’ Assistance Fund at Sharon Towers, 5100 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC 28210.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC; 28204 (704) 641-7606.

Online condolences can be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

William McGuire Plonk ’49

William McGuire Plonk '49

Rev. William McGuire Plonk, 95, died April 10, 2021 at King’s Grant Retirement Community in Martinsville VA, where he lived for almost twenty years.

Born in Franklin NC on August 19, 1925, Bill grew up in Spindale NC, Macon GA, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte, spending many summers on his grandmother’s farm in Franklin.

After graduating from RJ Reynolds High School, he served as an Army second lieutenant during WWII in Alabama and Alaska. He graduated from Davidson College as a physics major in 1949 and Union Theological Seminary (Richmond) in 1954. 

Following ordination in the Presbyterian Church, he served pastorates in Lawrenceville VA, Greensboro NC, Spartanburg SC, and Virginia Beach before settling on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where he served churches in Onancock and Accomac for over 25 years. He was the founding pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia SC, which celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year. He continued to serve as an interim minister in Melfa, Chatham, Callaway, and Stuart VA after his retirement.

Bill loved his God, his family, and the NC mountains. He also loved to travel, taking his family on pastorate exchanges to Canada and Scotland and representing the Church on several trips to Ireland.

He was an active member of the Rotary and Lions Clubs wherever he lived and served on numerous community boards. He was known as the conscience of Accomack County.

He possessed a beautiful baritone voice and enjoyed singing as much as preaching. In Scotland he was famous as the preacher who sounded like Andy Griffith. He loved to visit parishioners, often unannounced. Despite working weekends and holidays, he was a devoted husband and father and will be missed greatly by his family and many, many friends.

He was predeceased by his father Thomas Motley Plonk, his mother Mary Louise McGuire Plonk, his brother Thomas Motley Plonk, Jr., his sister Margaret Plonk Anderson, and his beloved wife Nancy Moore Plonk, whom he cared for devotedly after her stroke in 1997 until her death in 2011.

He is survived by his sister Mildred Plonk Folk (Charlotte), daughter Mary and Richard Lucas (Roanoke), son William and Beth Plonk (Durham NC), seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Services will be held on Saturday April 17 at 11 AM at Harris Funeral Home in Kings Mountain NC with burial in Mountain Rest Cemetery.

Donations may be made to King’s Grant or Mountain Valley Hospice.

Robert Etheridge ’49

Robert Etheridge '49

On Wednesday, December 23rd, at home and surrounded by his family, Robert Charles Etheridge passed away at the age of 93 after a 20 year battle with COPD.

Bob Etheridge was born on March 16, 1927 at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, twelve minutes after his fraternal twin, the late Jack Paul Etheridge. He grew up on Peachtree Road just east of current Lenox Square, attended R L Hope Elementary School, graduated from high school at the Darlington School in Rome, GA, and enrolled at Davidson College in North Carolina.

In 1945 he persuaded his father, a Fulton County Superior Court judge, to pull strings to get him into the Army despite his 4F status. After serving at Fort Jackson through the end of WWII, he enrolled in the Business School at Emory University and graduated with a BBA in 1949.

In June of 1949 Bob and Mary Elizabeth Jackson were married. They had two sons, Charles and Zach, and a daughter, Virginia. Less than a year after their wedding, their surviving parents (Bob’s mother and Mary Elizabeth’s father), who had met at the same high school graduation party where their children’s romance began, were also married, creating a curious family situation in which the young newlyweds technically became step-brother and -sister, and their children could describe themselves as their own cousins, which delighted them no end.

After eight years as a schedule engineer with the Atlantic Steel Company and a short stint with the New England Life Insurance Company, Bob’s powerful faith led him to move his young family to Brazil, where he served as treasurer for the West Brazil Mission of the Presbyterian Church (US). There he faced the challenge of being a layman in a culture where all missionaries were assumed to be ordained preachers.

He adjusted successfully to a new language, a new banking system, and a currency subject to chronic hyperinflation. He also learned to adapt the Lord’s work to local reality; his was surely one of the few budgets ever submitted to the Presbyterian Church that included a line in the expense column labeled “money for bribes.”

After serving for 24 years in Brazil, Bob worked for two years as mission treasurer in Kinshasa, Zaire (where cash came in bricks and a careless word could get you arrested by dictator Mobuto’s thugs) then wound up his career with another five years’ service at Presbyterian Church headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.

A lifelong fascination with airplanes led to a pilot’s license and the purchase of a Piper J3 Cub in 1958; one of Bob’s great regrets was selling the plane when he moved to Brazil. Ten years later he bought an old Cessna 172, renewed his license, and eventually completed an epic 5000-mile flight from Campinas, Brazil to Atlanta with his wife and daughter aboard. He was so thoughtful and committed a family man, however, that when his closest friend died in a plane crash Bob sold the 172 and never flew again.

Bob Etheridge was defined by his faith, his marriage, and his abiding urge to be as good a person as he could be. With Mary Elizabeth’s constant support and encouragement they committed their lives to their Christian ideals, setting an unforgettable example for their children and all who knew them. Bob was beloved for his kindness, generosity, and forgiveness; he never lost faith in anyone (except perhaps a few politicians), and always looked for the good in everyone he encountered.

Bob Etheridge is survived by his wife of 71 years, Mary Elizabeth; and by his son Zach and daughter Virginia, granddaughters Elizabeth and Mary Claire, and great-grandchildren Robert and Gina.

Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced by North Decatur Presbyterian Church at a later date. The family suggests that gifts to honor Bob’s life be made to North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur.

Copyright (c) 2021 The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution