The City of Sandy Springs hosted a memorial for its founding mayor April 24, where city officials and family members noted that Sandy Springs was Eva Galambos’ fourth child.
Galambos said in a video montage played at the service that her strongest legacy is that of her successful children. The screen flashed a photo of her daughter and sons, but everyone in the sanctuary knew her legacy to include four children.
“With the realization that she is mother to Sandy Springs comes the realization we have all these brothers and sisters we never met before,” said Tobae McDuff, Galambos’ daughter.
“Good work, Dad,” she joked.
As much as Mayor Rusty Paul, members of council and residents know about Galambos, her daughter just said “wow,” and described how much she and her siblings learned of their family recently.
Having moved to Seattle in 1979, McDuff said she was peripherally aware of her mother’s vision, but Galambos attended all the regular family events and celebrations. She even helped McDuff paint her house. She was available — as long as the legislator wasn’t in session, McDuff said.
McDuff said she knew Galambos not as “founding mother” to Sandy Springs, but as “Mom.”
“She was my mom and she did all the usual mom things,” McDuff said.
“I know she’s absolutely devoted to her children,” Paul said, but it was her husband with whom she shared her aspirations. “Whatever her legacy is, she shares it with John Galambos who was there to support her at every turn, every disappointment and at the ultimate triumph.”
In describing Galambos, city officials used words like tenacious and enduring.
But she was also engaging.
Councilman Tibby DeJulio described a ride on a locomotive train where Galambos engrossed the conductor with conversation so well that he missed a stop.
DeJulio said he looked up the word “tenacity” and found eight pages of definition, but all he needed was to point at a portrait of the founding mayor. Then he described how Galambos made him president of the nonprofit group he suggested she put together.
“She had that gift of bringing people onto her side, of coming to the table with you, explaining an idea to you and when she left you thought it was your idea because now she put you in charge of implementing it,” DeJulio said.
But though she was demanding of others, he said she was harder on herself, he said.
“She was a person who pushed herself and got things done,” DeJulio said.
Council members DeJulio, John Paulson and Mayor Paul all told “Eva stories” about her pushing them into politics, and they each thanked her for it.
“We’re living Eva’s vision,” Paulson said. “There are 100,000 people in this city and 100,000 Eva stories.”
Executive Director of Leadership Sandy Springs Carolyn Axt shared the story of Galambos’ history in the Sandy Springs United Methodist Church, where the city hosted the memorial. The basement of the building provided the backdrop to putting together the task forces where people connected to create a city.
“Those connections and organizations became the foundation of Sandy Springs,” Axt said. “Her strengths lay in setting a vision, but most importantly providing the leadership to create an enduring foundation and infrastructure for the city and community organizations.”
For 50 years, no new cities were created in Georgia, yet in the past ten years almost 10 have emerged, Paul said.
Police Chief Ken DeSimone said from his perspective, the agencies in Fulton and DeKalb counties that Sandy Springs police works with simply wouldn’t exist without Galambos’ work. The cities of Dunwoody, Brookhaven, John’s Creek, Milton and others share resources that help residents of all the neighboring communities, he said.
“Because of her vision and leadership we’re able to have a first-rate SWAT Team, where the cost and burden isn’t shared by just one city,” DeSimone said. “We would never have been able to do that prior to the incorporation of Sandy Springs.”
Dunwoody Councilman Terry Nall said Galambos will be missed, but her accomplishments won’t.
“Margaret Thatcher may have been Britain’s ‘Iron Lady,’ but Eva Galambos was the ‘Iron Lady’ of Sandy Springs and all the new cities, including Dunwoody,” Nall said. “She will be missed, but her spirit and accomplishments will last through the ages.”
In Galambos’ determination, she refused to accept defeat, Paul said.
Paul spoke about Galambos’ ability to speak multiple languages, but said she always had trouble with the word “No.”
“A lesser person would have accepted defeat,” Paul said. “I never saw her waiver or be discouraged.”