By Forest Riggs
On May 23, 2019, Galveston Island lost one of its most beloved citizens and a tremendous supporter of the island’s LGBTQ community. After a lengthy illness, Jerry Ann Eubank left her earthly life to begin a new journey.
Over the years Jerry and her loving husband Mike, working together as a team, impacted the lives of everyone they encountered. Known for their generosity and the constant outpouring of love and assistance, the Eubank name became rather iconic on the Island. Everyone knew and loved “Mike and Jerry.” When Jerry died it was a huge loss for the tight community and, not to sound trite, but it is fair to say her passing left a huge hole.
Missing their Island friend and staunch LGBTQ supporter, residents discussed and debated the best way to honor Jerry Eubank. As she and Mike had been so involved in community activities, organizations, and volunteering for various causes, ideas ranged from a memorial tree in a park, a plaque in a prominent place, or possibly a scholarship. As a master gardener, for years Jerry was instrumental in organizing and supporting the annual Backyard Garden Tour, as well as other tours and island activities. Selecting the appropriate way to honor and remember the female part of the dynamic Eubank team needed to be something that embodied all that was Jerry.
Enter Texas United Charities. Started in Houston several years ago, the 501(c)3 organization was born out of a spirit of love, compassion, and giving. TUC, as it is known, wanted to develop a charity that would assist members of the LGBTQ community and do so in a fun and exciting way. Simply put, TUC wanted to put fun into FUNdraising, and they have succeeded!
In 2018, a Galveston branch of TUC was launched. With guidance and assistance from its parent group in Houston, GTUC took root on the Island. It did not take long for the fledgling Galveston group to catch on fire and quickly blossom into a dynamic organization with roots deep in the LGBTQ community of Galveston. As GTUC President Shelia Morton said: “We raise money and we do things for our community that others won’t or can’t do.”
The idea of helping others within any LGBTQ community is no novel thing. LGBTQ folks have been taking care of their own for many years. GTUC vice president Tim Dudley is quick to point out, “This is a great organization and really does a lot of good. We work hard to raise money and make it fun along the way.”
GTUC holds several fundraisers throughout the year; the events usually include entertainment, food, silent auctions, and raffles. Money is raised and it is amazing to witness the giving spirit of the community.
Jerry Eubank Angel Fund
After some meetings and talks with Mike, GTUC decided to honor the memory and legacy of Jerry by establishing the Jerry Eubank Angel Fund. Launched shortly after Jerry’s death, organizers got busy planning and coordinating the fund. Word quickly spread and the island community was totally on board and ready to support the effort.
Jim Greaser, manager of the popular 23rd Street Station Piano Bar and new director of membership to GTUC said of Jerry: “Oh, my gosh. She was such a loving person and a giver. Always ready to help when and where she could. Together Mike and Jerry enhanced our LGBTQ community.”
After losing his wife of fifty-three years, Mike Eubank is still hard at it supporting the community and doing his part to honor the memory of his beloved wife. Over the years the Eubanks bought and restored many historic properties on the island’s East End. Their skills and knowledge of restoration, real estate, codes, and general knowledge landed the coupled with the moniker of being a “go-to” source on the island. Whenever someone needed a recommendation for work to be done, where to get what, it was always met with “go ask Mike and Jerry Eubank!”
Now without his partner Jerry, Mike remains a “go-to” for the community. Working every day at the new Jim Nonus venture, The Antique Pavilion on 23rd Street, Mike remains busy and ever-present in the community. Owner Jim Nonus said: “Mike is fantastic. He is great in the store and helping customers, and he knows his stuff.”
Know his stuff, he does. Over 53 years of their marriage, Mike and Jerry collected bought and sold all sorts of things from antique furniture, collectible pottery, and stained glass to Coca-Cola memorabilia and pocketknives. (Jerry was a master stained glass artist and over the years restored many windows for churches, civic buildings, and private homes.)
Together, Mike and Jerry raised two wonderful sons and were very active and involved parents from scouting to FFA and 4H. The Eubank team made a great life for the boys and their friends.
Also, avid “cruisers” Mike and Jerry completed over 80 cruises and made long-lasting friends on the various cruise lines and ports of call they frequented.
On Saturday, February 8, GTUC did it again. A fundraiser held at 23rd St. Station Piano Bar, brought out the community and friends of Mike and Jerry. There was a silent auction with some fabulous items on which to bid, steaming pots of gumbo, cakes, cookies, and all sorts of food.
Jerry loved music and sang in choirs for many years. She and Mike were regulars at various clubs around the island, always giving support to musicians and entertainers. With 23rd St. becoming a very popular piano bar, Mike and Jerry enjoyed the music and the fun…and the wine! Popular pianist LU/X really impressed Jerry and she dearly loved his beautiful playing. The Eubanks would come every night that LU/X performed and always Jerry would tell him, “You are fabulous!”
Island entertainer John Schmidt (AKA Paige Turner) is another performer that Jerry adored. “When I first started doing shows and entertaining, it was Jerry who told me to sing the songs people wanted to hear and not get so worried about what to sing. Just do it!”
The GTUC fundraiser raised over $6000.
Jerry believed there were angels that often helped people in need. A strong, spiritual woman, Jerry felt it was a person’s duty to help when and where they could, no matter who.
The Jerry Eubank Angel Fund honors Jerry’s memory and a strong desire to help others. The fund has already assisted with rents, medicines, utility bills, burials, and other needs of Galveston’s large LGBTQ Community. Thank you, Mike Eubank, for sharing Jerry with the community. And thank you, Jerry Eubank, for being you. Your legacy gives us all something to aspire to and offers hope and love for everyone.