Fall 2015 has been a time of exciting and entertaining events and preservation progress, but for Cobb Landmarks members and friends it has also been a time of sadness, as our organization lost three of its most valiant and stalwart supporters in September and October. Bill David, Martha Lee Brumby, and Joe Kirby were all friends of CLHS, promoters of our community, and giants of historic preservation whose collective presence looms large over our organization. Without each of them, we would not be the organization that we are, and it is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to them.
Bill David, husband of former CLHS Executive Director Marcelle David and a supporter of CLHS and the Root House in his own right, died September 5 after a long battle with cancer. Bill and Marcelle were instrumental in the rescue of the Root House and the successful establishment of the Root House Museum and Garden. Terri Cole, who worked with the Davids in the early days of the Root House project, penned this reflection after Bill’s funeral:
There are lots of things in this world that can be measured. Bill David certainly understood the word “measure.” He built hundreds of residential homes in the Marietta area during the past 40 years as a partner with Cotton States Builders. Some of you may even be fortunate enough to live in one of these beautiful homes. Lumber, trim, windows, doors, porches, roofing, and even driveways are measured to assure they fit the builder’s specifications. However, there is one thing that is difficult to measure: the value one person can add to another person’s life. The length and depth of time and talent given to another person or organization is immeasurable and often forgotten over time. In remembering our friend Bill, we will never be able to measure the time and talents he and Marcelle gave to make Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society what it is today. Perhaps their son Brad said it best in Bill’s eulogy: “Dad taught me many lessons in life, and I could not have had a better father, a better person to model my life after. One of the most valuable lessons dad taught me, he did not sit me down and talk me through, he simply showed me through his actions. His abiding love and devotion to my mother was the greatest gift that he gave me. Dad showed me what a committed and loving relationship should look like and loved my mother more than anything in his life.”
Bill shared and supported Marcelle’s passion for CLHS and The Root House Museum. His presence, kindness, generosity, and courage cannot be measured. He was a good man. We are thankful for what he did for all of us and for his actions that spoke louder than his words.
We at Cobb Landmarks extend our heartfelt condolences to Marcelle and Brad and their family.
Martha Lee Brumby, a pillar of the Marietta community and widow of Otis Brumby, Jr., the late publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal (MDJ), died October 29 after a six-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Mrs. Brumby was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church in Marietta, where she was active with the Altar Guild and the funeral committee. She was a generous hostess, always willing to extend her hospitality to individuals or civic groups, and she and her husband were supporters of Cobb Landmarks from the early days. The love of community and the support for historic preservation were passed on to their five children: Spain Gregory, Lee Garrett, Betsy Tarbutton, Anna Brumby, and Otis A. Brumby III. It was in large part through financial support provided by Otis and Martha Lee Brumby and their children, through the Brumby-Leonard Family Foundation and the Marietta Daily Journal Community Foundation, that Cobb Landmarks was able to publish Marietta, the Gem City of Georgia: A Celebration of Its Homes – A Portrait of Its People, by Douglas Frey, in 2010.
In a reflection in the MDJ penned by Ricky Leroux, Mrs. Brumby’s friend Connie Smith is quoted as saying that Martha Lee was someone who believed you couldn’t do enough to help people. “She was a beautiful, elegant lady inside and out…the kindest, most generous person to everyone.” These qualities of kindness and generosity are certainly her legacy to us, her friends at Cobb Landmarks. We extend our sincere sympathy to Spain, Lee, Betsy, Anna, and Otis and their families.
Joe Kirby, local author and historian and longtime editorial page editor of the Marietta Daily Journal, died October 30 after a short illness. Joe contracted a rare form of cancer, probably the result of radiation treatments in his youth, and died only a week after diagnosis. Joe’s contributions to the promotion of our community and the recording of its history are significant, and rare coming from a person who was not a Cobb County native. A native of Washington, D.C., Joe came to Marietta in 1987 to take up a post as a reporter for the MDJ, after stints at the Toccoa Chieftan and the Roswell Neighbor. Dr. Sam Matthews said at Joe’s memorial service, “Joe Kirby fooled me. I thought he was from around here.” He quoted Joe as saying that he came to Marietta “as soon as he could.” Joe clearly loved this community. In an obituary penned by Jon Gillooly for the MDJ, Marshall Ramsey, an ad designer for the paper in the early 1990s who was mentored by Joe Kirby, said of him and his legacy, “…here’s a guy who had the talent to go anywhere, but he stayed in a place where he could make a difference. And he loved the history of the place… He realized that he was where he needed to be to make sure that he could raise his children the right way, and his legacy will be in Miles and Lucy.”
Joe’s wife, Fran Froehlke Kirby, said that her husband’s passion was history. He wrote several books of local history, among them The Bell Bomber Plant, Marietta (Then and Now), and Marietta Revisited (Then and Now). These titles are all available at Mr. Root’s Store, and they are an important part of the body of printed scholarship about Marietta and Cobb County. His columns in the MDJ are another source of valuable local history and commentary. Joe was also an enthusiastic supporter of Cobb Landmarks, always willing to provide publicity for CLHS events in his popular “Around Town” column and elsewhere in the paper. He was a frequent speaker to community and civic groups on the subject of local history, always promoting Marietta and Cobb County and exhorting them to make it better. He was a frequent attendee at Cobb Landmarks events, usually present at the Pilgrimage Gala, the Annual Meeting, and many other events.
Attorney General Sam Olens was quoted in Jon Gillooly’s reflection in the MDJ as saying that Joe Kirby saw life through a positive lens. “There are few people you meet in life that you view as being ‘glass half full’ each and every day, and he was….He was always there to uplift, always there to discuss the greatness of the community….”
All of us at Cobb Landmarks extend our heartfelt sympathy to Fran, Lucy, and Miles Kirby.
Cobb Landmarks & Historical Society