Michael D. Easterly
January 21, 1947 – February 15, 2021
Michael D. Easterly, 74, died peacefully Monday, February 15, from complications due to Parkinson's Disease.
Born in Greeneville, Tennessee, Mike moved with his family at an early age to Knoxville, where he became a loyal UT Volunteer. Mike graduated from Fulton High School in 1965 and the University of Tennessee with a degree in Business Administration in 1969. At UT, Mike joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity, where he made deep and lasting friendships. Even now, after more than 50 years, the brothers continue to tailgate each home game on the exact same spot outside Neyland Stadium. Stories are retold and optimism abounds that “this could be the season.”
Mike was destined to succeed in business. To pay for college, Mike sold dictionaries and encyclopedias door-to-door in Alabama and Mississippi. By the time he graduated, he had amassed a cadre of sellers working for him throughout the South. This was his first, but not last, chance to hire, mentor, and successfully manage a team.
After college, Mike moved to Atlanta to attend the Georgia State University College of Business, graduating in 1972 with his MBA in Marketing. In addition to his studies, he worked for the State Office of Economic Development to attract new businesses to Georgia. A highlight of this job was hosting business prospects for a round of golf at Augusta National.
Mike’s professional domain was investment banking. Starting at Robinson Humphrey, he held positions at William Blair, Thompson McKinnon, Prudential Bache, and Morgan Keegan before starting his own companies, Legacy Securities and Brookwood Hill Group. During his lengthy career, he served as lead advisor on mergers and acquisitions, raising capital, equity and debt financing, and business valuation. His reputation was built on intellect, integrity, loyalty, and an ability to create value. To this, he added good humor and Southern charm.
A serial entrepreneur, Mike owned or invested in radio stations, healthcare and energy firms, restaurants, hotels, and tech start-ups, to name a few. Even in his last years, Mike was generating ideas for his next business endeavor. While he never wavered from his focus on “the numbers,” he was most proud of mentoring, coaching, and developing young talent.
Mike remained loyal to GSU as an active alumnus and donor, serving as President of the Alumni Association for two terms and Chair of the GSU Foundation Board. During his seventeen-year tenure, the Foundation Board significantly altered the campus profile and footprint with the construction of two major dormitories in downtown Atlanta, as well as elevated the academic and research profile of the university.
Mike was instrumental in raising monies for the Rialto Center for the Arts, the Women's Philanthropy Network, various classrooms, and other capital improvements. Most significant was his focus on recruiting new and substantial donors, setting stretch goals, and increasing the fundraising capacity of the institution.
Mike lived the motto, Carpe Diem. A man of myriad interests and hobbies, Mike loved riding his Tennessee Walker, The General, at Burge Plantation, playing golf at the Capital City Club, the Memphis Country Club, the East Lake Golf Club, and the Aspen Glen Club. Mike relished pheasant and quail hunting with buddies and son Matt in the cold cornfields of Iowa and bone fishing with his brother in Belize and Playa del Carmen. He enjoyed pooltime with daughter Lindsey and grandsons and road-tripping with his son Justin. He read a book a week and watched junk TV. He loved to play pool and poker and enjoyed time with his dogs Luke, Ted, Callaway, and Jackson.
Mike met his wife, Anne Deeley Easterly, playing golf at Capital City, and they married in 2000. A few years later, they purchased a home in Carbondale, Colorado, and affectionately named it “Paradise West.” For five months each year, they took advantage of all Colorado has to offer: hiking, biking, horseback riding, and golf. There, Mike and Anne made lifelong friends with whom they celebrated birthdays, traveled, and enjoyed many wonderful dinners and anniversaries. Mike liked nothing more than hosting family and friends from Brookhaven at Paradise West, and he never failed to make his famous cathead biscuits for all who visited.
A true world traveler, Mike visited Portugal, Spain, England, France, Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Canada, and countless cities in the US. Mike was a regular at Capital City’s men’s cooking classes and thoroughly delighted in fellowship and Burgundy wine dinners hosted by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, or Fraternity of Knights of the Wine-Tasting Cup. Ever open to adventure, Mike and Anne embarked on several long-distance bike rides across Tuscany, California, and national parks in the Rockies.
After Mike’s diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, he and Anne learned that non-contact boxing is one of the best ways to slow down disease symptoms. This insight led them to the Livramento Delgado Boxing Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing boxing and related training to Parkinson's clients in the Atlanta area. The positive LDBF experience prompted Mike and Anne to help create Power Punch, a Parkinson’s boxing program in Carbondale.
In addition to wife Anne, Mike is survived by his children: Matthew Easterly of Seattle, Lindsey Bamburg (David “Sonny”) of Key Largo, Justin Easterly of Atlanta, and their mother, Retha Sobol Easterly. Other survivors include grandsons Nathaniel and Joshua Bamburg, niece Darlington Easterly Ridgway (Ed), step-daughter Rachel Vetter, and sisters-in-law Cecil Easterly and Jane Zambreno.
The family is indebted to Maria Pardo, Mike’s devoted caregiver. Maria’s love, kind spirit, and humanitarian care deeply enriched Mike and Anne’s journey this past year.
Due to the Covid pandemic, a celebration of Mike’s life will be postponed to a later date. The family requests those wishing to make memorial gifts consider LDBF, 3812 Felton Hill Road, Smyrna GA 30082, boxing for parkinson's.org; GSU Foundation’s Panther Retention Grant (Fund ID 020279), PO Box 2668, Atlanta GA 30301-2668, giving.gsu.edu; or a charity of your choice.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Michael D. Easterly
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March 1, 2021
We will always remember the fun time we had with Mike and you on the trip to St John and our great jeep ride. Mike will be remembered for his kindness, patience and joy for life.
Sincerely Patrick and Mary.