Luck Flanders Gambrell

January 17, 1930June 29, 2015

Luck Flanders Gambrell lived a long life of kindness, generosity, faith, and service and was beloved by her family, friends, and community. Her interesting life was often revealed in the many stories she enjoyed telling as her health and age kept her from continuing the myriad activities that filled her first 75 years. Born on January 17, 1930 to Mattie Moring Mitchell Flanders and William Henry Flanders, Luck Flanders grew up in Swainsboro, Georgia and attended the public schools of Emanuel County. After losing her mother at the age of twelve, some of her happiest days were spent at Camp Chattooga in Rabun County, and later at St. Mary’s College and Duke University in Durham, N. C. where she graduated in 1950. Luck often reminisced about her additional training at the Universities of Tours (France) and Fribourg (Switzerland) where she became fluent in French. In 1952, while studying for the foreign service examinations, she met David Gambrell, and the next year they married and settled in his hometown of Atlanta where she lived the rest of her life. She taught French at the Westminster Schools, and the Gambrells had four children, Luck, Jr., Henry, Alice, and Mary. Luck Gambrell served as an active volunteer with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society while she raised her children, a service indicative of her concern for justice. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta where she was a deacon and then an elder, and where she trained as a lay minister in the Stephen Ministries program. Luck Gambrell had a keen interest in government and politics and embraced the role of a U.S. “Senate wife” after Governor Jimmy Carter appointed her husband to serve out the unexpired term of Senator Richard B. Russell after his death in January 1971. She campaigned tirelessly for her husband in his bids for the U.S. Senate in 1972 and Governor in 1974 and also canvassed door to door in New Hampshire in 1976 in soon-to-be President Jimmy Carter’s “Peanut Brigade.” Later she was appointed by Governor George Busbee as the first woman on the Georgia Board of Public Safety (1981-1990), and in 1980 she was elected in the Fifth District as a Georgia delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Luck Gambrell was privileged to spend three nights in the White House as Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter’s guest, and when President Carter established the Carter Center in Atlanta she became a life member of its Board of Councilors, a leadership advisory group that serves to advance understanding of and support for the Carter Center and its global peace and health programs. Luck Gambrell was a strong advocate of higher education in the state, serving on the Emory University Board of Visitors and the Tift College Board of Trustees. She had a special interest in creating opportunities for young people, and she volunteered for decades to help identify and fund disadvantaged women who wished to attend college through the Student Aid Foundation. She has generously supported Spelman College, Agnes Scott College, and her alma mater, Duke University. Luck Gambrell’s lifelong dedication to improving her home community of Swainsboro was recognized only three months ago. On March 28, 2015 she was awarded the University System of Georgia’s Distinguished Alumni/Friend Excellence Award because of her extraordinary contributions to the founding and continued growth and success of East Georgia State College in Swainsboro. In 1971 she donated the land for the college that is now a thriving hub of education and opportunity in southeast Georgia. For forty-five years her advocacy supported the development of programs and facilities at EGSC. Her most recent contribution was establishing Need-based Scholarships at EGSC in 2013. Luck was a great fundraiser and supporter for The Sunshine House Regional Children’s Advocacy Center which assists abused and neglected children in Eastern Georgia.

Luck Gambrell touched everyone who met her with her cheerfulness and profound interest in all people. She especially loved her family who have always relied on her as a source of strength and a model of intelligence and empathy. She is survived by her husband, David H. Gambrell, and children, Luck Gambrell Davidson of Greensboro, NC, D. Henry Gambrell, Jr. of Swainsboro and Atlanta, Alice Gambrell (David Rollo) of Los Angeles, and Mary Gambrell Rolinson (Frank Rolinson) of Decatur. She had five grandchildren, Dave Davidson, Charlotte Davidson (Tyler Quinn), Kathleen Davidson, Callum Rolinson, and Duncan Rolinson. She is also survived by her brother William H. “Bo” Flanders, Jr. (Sandy) and sister Margaret Oglesby and was predeceased by her sister Anna Smith and brother Frank Flanders. Luck had many close and beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins and thought of and treated them as her own.

There will be a visitation at Patterson’s Spring Hill on Tuesday, July 7 from 6:30 until 8:30 in the evening and a funeral service at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta on Wednesday, July 8 at 11 o’clock with a private family burial to follow in Swainsboro, Georgia. A memorial service will be held in Swainsboro at a future date TBA. The family wishes for their friends to know they will be greeting only at the visitation on Tuesday night. Guest books will be available at the funeral service.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Student Aid Foundation, Inc., 1266 West Paces Ferry Rd. #577, Atlanta, GA 30327-2306; East Georgia State College Need Based Scholarships, attn.: Elizabeth Gilmer, 131 College Circle, Swainsboro, GA 30401 (please make checks payable to EGSC Foundation); or the Sunshine House Children’s Center, P. O. Box 617, Swainsboro, GA 30401.


  • Visitation Tuesday, July 7, 2015
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Luck Flanders Gambrell

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Paul Cadenhead

July 13, 2015

Sara and I knew and loved Luck for decades, from the time she and David began his successful law practice. We shared efforts in the public interest, our profession, community and church. She was a kind, gentle and unselfish person, contributing in many and successful ways. But most of all, she was a dear and considerate friend to all who kew her.
I am preparing our own personal eulogy to Luck that I shall share with our beloved friend, David. But publicly I join Luck's multitude of friends in publicly praising her for a lifetime of service.
Paul Cadenhead

gloria vargas

July 8, 2015

My deep condolence to the family of the Gambrell Familes. My prayers and love will be always with them. Good Mom is a great and loving person and will be miss by everyone.
Gloria V.

Bill Grabbe

July 8, 2015

I was very sorry to hear of your loss. Mrs. Gambrell has always brightened my days with her warmth and charm. I was blessed to know her.

July 8, 2015

Dear Alice,
My thoughts and prayers are with you and the entire Gambrell family.
Luck lived her life well ... a warm, kind, generous, cheerful, intelligent lady ... an inspiration for us all.
When I would see Luck at church I would ask about you. Her eyes would light up! She loved you so much and was very proud of you!
In the days ahead, may you be blessed with beautiful memories. May God bring you comfort and peace.
With love and deepest sympathy,
Sara Hartness Deiters
Your first grade teacher @ Westminster

July 7, 2015

To the entire Gambrell Family,
Our prayers and sympathy are with you. Luck was in the true sense of the word a beautiful,kind and thoughtful woman.I remember the years we car pooled Elisa and Mary to Trinity and the good times the girls had together.
May all the wonderful memories be with you always. Fondly, Carol & Paul Muldawer

July 7, 2015

I was honored to know Mrs. Gambrell personally and by her good works here in Swainsboro. I mentioned her huge contributions through the years to East Georgia State College in the graduation address this May. She accomplished so much during her lifetime and is a role model of leadership and service in addition to her generosity. Our community and state does not lose a citizen like Luck Gambrell without leaving a huge void. Her community, state and country are better because of her life's work and faithful efforts.
State Senator Jack Hill

Karen Walker

July 6, 2015

Our most heartfelt condolences to Mr. Gambrell and children on the passing, to a home prepared for her, of a dear woman and lovely friend. Our warmest affection to you and yours. John and Karen Walker


July 6, 2015

May the God of all comfort strengthen the family during this time of deep sorrow. Those who pass on, God keeps in his memory because they are precious in his eyes. My sincerest condolences.
Psalms 116:15


July 6, 2015

Please accept my condolences for your loss. May God grant you peace and comfort. Psalms 83 : 18, Psalms 147 : 3.

Flo Hix

July 6, 2015


I have looked for you for years and been unable to find you. It is with a sad heart that this is the closest I have come. For all of you I am deeply saddened, but your mom had a wonderful life. I will never forget her driving us to the barn in the little, and I mean little, blue 2002 BMW. The stories she would tell, the jokes and "My Alley" for taking care of us when we descended on your house. The memories I have of your family and your special mom are some of my most endearing to me. I cannot be with you in person during this time but know that I am with you in thought, prayer, memories and love.

What a great mom you had!
Flo Monroe Hix