Graham Manly Eubank of Johns Island, founder of Charleston's Palmetto Ford Inc., died Saturday. He was 81.
Manly Eubank was born Oct. 10, 1936 in Henderson, N.C., the eldest child and only son of the Rev. Graham S. Eubank and Maria Byrd Eubank.
He graduated from Wofford College in 1958 and served as a first lieutenant with the Army Corps of Engineers, stateside and abroad, for several years. In 1961, he joined the staff of family friend Terry Sanford, then governor of North Carolina, and after Sanford's term ended in 1965, Eubank became a partner in a Fayetteville, N.C. insurance firm.
In 1969, Paul Motor Co. in Charleston, which had owned its Ford franchise for almost 50 years, sold it to Eubank, who renamed the franchise Palmetto Ford. In a 1983 Post and Courier article, Eubank admitted that initially he knew nothing about the automobile business. In choosing to act as his own general manager, though, focusing on the planning and business aspects of the company, it didn't take Eubank long to have the franchise "running like a well-oiled machine," says the 1983 article.
Palmetto Ford Inc. was named the top Ford dealership in South Carolina in 1987, and in 1992, Eubank was the recipient of the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award. In the two years prior, Palmetto Ford had been listed as one of Ford's top 100 dealerships in the country.
Eubank's community involvement included serving as president of the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Assoc. and Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. He served on the board of directors with the Star Gospel Mission, was chairman and founding member of CresCom Bank and commodore of the Carolina Yacht Club, as well as being a member of the Hibernian Society and the Country Club of Charleston.
Surviving are his wife, Janet Hall Eubank; daughters Burnam Eubank and Elizabeth Eubank; son Graham M. Eubank Jr. (Becky); two grandchildren; three sisters and their families.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at Bethel Methodist Church in downtown Charleston at 2 p.m. Wednesday, with a reception to follow at the Carolina Yacht Club. Arrangements are being handled by Stuhr's Downtown Chapel.