Martin L. Eubanks, who spent almost his entire career with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, died late Saturday evening Jan. 18, at Augusta University Medical Center in Augusta, GA. He was 59 years old and a resident of Lexington, SC.
Mr. Eubanks died following a freak accident he had at home on Jan. 9, which resulted in a broken neck in part of the spinal region causing severe damage, according to information provided by his son, John Martin Eubanks.
Mr. Eubanks was born on Sept. 5, 1960, in Thomasville, GA. He graduated from Thomasville High School in 1978, and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia's College of Agriculture in Athens, GA, in 1982.
A few years after graduating from college, he joined the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, where he remained for close to 33 years, serving in various roles. He was the department's assistant commissioner of agriculture when he retired around the summer of 2018.
In addition to his son, who is known as John Martin, Mr. Eubanks is survived by his wife of 11 years, Karen; two daughters, Claire Carpentier and Kelly Howell; three grandchildren; two brothers, Joe and Mel; and his parents, Johnny and Frances. His first wife, Debbie, died in 2005.
Mr. Eubanks was "a great man of faith and was not ashamed to show it," his son wrote in a letter he shared with The Produce News. "Martin left a tremendous impact on everything that he touched, and the ag industry falls right into this category. Agriculture was more than a career for Martin Eubanks; it was a passion of his to help support and promote this industry that he loved. Martin was heavily involved in multiple produce industry councils and associations, where he never met a stranger and rarely showed favoritism towards one particular group of farmers. Martin was simply a fan of agriculture."
Mr. Eubanks was especially involved in the Southeast Produce Council, where he served on the board of directors for the first seven years of its existence.
"Martin Eubanks was a true southern gentleman in every sense of the phrase," said David Sherrod, the council's president and chief executive officer. "He loved the Lord, he loved his family, he loved his job, and he loved life. Martin squeezed 100 years of living into only 59 years here on earth."
He added, "Martin was so instrumental in helping form the SEPC. He was the original wordsmith of the bylaws and helped us form the structure of our organization that has proven to be so successful over the last 20 years. He was a great encourager to me personally and spiritually."
To acknowledge all that he meant to the SEPC, Mr. Eubanks was honored with the council's Lifetime Membership Award at the SEPC's 2018 Southern Innovations conference in Nashville, TN.
Funeral services for Martin Eubanks will be held Friday, Jan. 24, at the Northside Baptist Church in Lexington, SC.