James Rollins Eubank

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James Rollins Eubank

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Seattle, King, Washington, United States
Death: Died in Oceanside, San Diego, California, United States
Cause of death: stroke
Place of Burial: Eternal Hills Memorial Park, Oceanside, San Diego, California, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Stephen (Euzell?) James Eubank and Dorthea Evelyn Rollins Eubank
Husband of Vera Pauline Hulse Eubank
Father of Robert Glenn Eubank and <private> Eubank
Brother of Frances Amelia Eubank Smith and Elsie Louise Eubank Koegler

Occupation: Real Estate Developer, Veteran of U.S. Navy
Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About James Rollins Eubank

There are several other pictures of my Uncle Jim under the Media Tab above, including one of his headstone at the Eternal Hills Memorial Park and Sanctuary in Oceanside, California. He was in the CMB Special Forces, Maritime Unit OSS, WWII, a predecessor of the Navy Seals. Also included is a picture of him as a very young boy, one of him when he was older, and one showing him in front of the Old California Restaurant Row complex that he built in San Marcos, California, in the 1970's. The first picture shown under the Media Tab is one of Uncle Jim taken with his two sisters in about 1916, when he was just a baby, his sister Louise was 3 years old and his sister Frances was 5 years old. They were such adorable children!

In 2002, a year before his death from a stroke at the age of 88, Rick Reilly wrote an article for Sports Illustrated about my Uncle Jim. The article was entitled, "Pool Shark", and below is the transcript.

You know about faces in the crowd, right? It's maybe the best thing we do. It's just people's achievements, simple as that. No agents, contracts or Hummers. They never fail to astound. Amber Blotch, 16, won her 1,062nd straight tennis match using a spatula. But when I read about an 85-year old swimmer a while back, Jim Eubank of Oceanside, California, I new somebody was yanking our chain. It wasn't just what the caption said, that he'd broken the 85 to 89 age group swimming record record in the 800-meter freestyle by more than 14 seconds and set two other records besides, it was his picture.

Look at all that hair! Where are all the wrinkles? If he's 85, why doesn't his neck look like beef jerky? Who's in charge of his birth certificate? The Dominican Republic? I called him. "No, I'm not 85, he said. Ah-ha! "I'm 86 now." I didn't buy it. I asked him if it were true that he still had the world record in the 800 meters. "No," he said. There you go! "Now I've got the world records in the 100, 200, 400, and 1,500 too." Tired of my pestering, he finally said, "come on out, and I'll take you on!"

Take me on? I'm half his age! I hardly swim, but I knew I could whip an 86-year old geezer. So I said, O.K., strap on your Speedo, Pops. He kept postponing. Once it was something about a double hernia. Another time he had to get the battery in his pacemaker replaced. Hah! Finally, I flew out there, ready to call his bluff. By now, he was 87. (Cough, cough.)

When I drove up to his North San Diego County ranch, he met me in the driveway. I hated him immediately. He had this huge shock of thick, white hair. He looked like Lloyd Bridges at 50. Or Dorian Gray. I demanded to see a birth certificate.

He let me look at the stuff on his walls while he changed. Here he was, in 1937, swimming against 1932 Olympic Gold Medalist, Buster Crabbe. (The paper said he was 22. Checks out.) Here he was, the same year, standing next to movie swim star Esther Williams, accepting first-place trophies from the Mile Hile Championships. Here was an article about him volunteering for a "special regiment" in 1942, even after being warned that the chances of surviving the assignment were 10%. Those men formed one of the first units that would become known as the Navy SEALS.

Turns out this guy performed feats of preposterous courage. Swimming under Japanese warcraft with nothing more than a knife in his teeth. Scouting enemy-held beaches. Aquatic guerrilla tactics. And to think I feel patriotic for taking my hat off for the national anthem.

After the war he got married and then dived right into the real estate business. He and his partner were among the first to cut into and build homes in the Hollywood Hills. He didnt waste any time getting back into the pool either. This is a man who has won his age group at the La Jolla Rough Water Swim in 55 of the last 56 years. The last time they asked him to say a few words. "Never smoke, drink or mess with women," he warned the men, "until I've checked them out first."

Suddenly he was back in the room, in his swim trunks. "Well," he said, "You ready?" His chest was massive and the skin over it was so tight, you could see where the silver-dollar-sized pace maker rests above his heart. Hell, you could almost read the serial number. His waist was 30 inches tops, his legs rippled, his arms toned. "Uh, I think I'm feeling a double hernia coming on," I said.

He led us out of the gorgeous ranch house he'd built himself, past the painting of a 60-foot boat he'd built himself, to the tree-lane heated lap pool he'd built himself. Somebody has got to tell Tom Brokaw about this guy. I knew my only chance was an all out sprint of 50 yards, two lengths of the pool. His wife of 57 years, Vera, started us. About 15 yards into it I looked up from my thrashing to see him watching me, his stroke smooth and splash-less. He beat me by about a length, but he could've beaten me by about the length of Omaha Beach. He shook my hand and said, "You gave me a real scare there!" Right. It would be like Reagan saying to Mondale, "Whoa! You almost nipped me there at the end!" It had to be the new battery.

Let's toast your victory over a beer, I offered. "Sure," he said. "Just let me stretch out with a few more laps." He did 70 more, a mile. does it every day. While he swam, it hit me that this is one of the coolest men I'd ever come across. Heroic. Classy. Brave, Buffed. Wise. Kind. "What goals could you possibly still have?" I asked him that night, at one of the 20 restaurants he's developed. "Well, the next age group is 90-and above," he said. "So, in a year or two I'm going to have to start getting in shape again."

Forget FACES IN THE CROWD! Is it too late to give him a cover? ____________________________________________________

My Uncle Jim was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1915. I found a record on Ancestry.com showing that his father, Stephen James Eubank, and his mother, Dorthea Evelyn Rollins Eubank, were still living in Seattle in 1917, at 2709-2nd Street, and his father, Stephen, was listed as a miner. They lived within a few blocks of where the Seattle Space Needle was built in 1964 for the World's Fair. I wondered why I felt so comfortable when I visited there--it was because my ancestors had been there before me and I guess I could feel their presence!

By 1918, Stephen James and Dorthea Evelyn Eubank were living in Portland, Oregon, at 344 19th Street North, which is less than a mile from where my husband Dan and I lived when we were in Portland from 1992 to 1993. My mom Frances Amelia Eubank Smith (Uncle Jim's sister) lived there with us at the time, but she never mentioned living in Portland as a child, although she did mention living in Seattle. When we were living in Portland, my mom and I went to Seattle to visit the town where she remembered living in 1915 when she was only 4 years old! Why she did not mention living in Portland, Oregon, I don't know....maybe because the family was not there very long, and were perhaps working their way back to California, which was where my mother had been born in San Diego in 1911.

Ironically, when the Eubank family lived in Seattle in 1917, there was also a William O. and Isabelle Eubank living there, as well as an Albert Eubank...I wonder if they were any relation to my family. When they lived in Portland in 1918, there was a John Eubank, who was a ship worker, and an Albert Eubank, listed as a gate tender, living nearby. Maybe that's why the Eubank family moved to Seattle and Portland, because they had family already living there.

I think my grandparents separated in about 1919, because the last letter I have which Stephen wrote to his mother and sister (both of whom were named Elsie) was dated 1919, and it seemed from that letter he and Dorthea Evelyn were having marital difficulties.

By 1920, my grandmother, Dorthea Evelyn Rollins Eubank, and her children, Frances, Louise, and Jim, were living in Bakersfield. Evelyn received a divorce from her husband Stephen James Eubank in Bakersfield in 1923, for "willfull desertion" per her family Bible records.

There is a public record on Ancestry.com for Mrs. Evelyn Eubank living in Bakersfield, California, in 1921 at 2217 Sunset, which is where her mother, Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins McKinney was living at the time. Dortha was separated from her second husband, Joseph T. McKinney (who was a Sheriff in Arizona), and was living in Bakersfield with three of her children from her second marriage to Mr. McKinney, including Dan Carroll, Thelma Josephine and Gladys McKinney. Dortha's first-born son, Delbert Rollins Eubank, was also living in Bakersfield with his wife Abbie, and working as a fireman on the railroad at that time. Maybe that's why Dortha and Evelyn settled in Bakersfield, because Evelyn's brother, Del, was already living there.

Evelyn is listed in California directories in Bakersfield in 1922, living at 912 Baker Street, and working as a nurse. In 1923 she was living at 705 Lake Street in Bakersfield, and she was still there in early 1924. But the family must have moved to Los Angeles around 1924, because my grandmother's written Bible records say Uncle Jim was baptized in the LDS Church, Adams Ward, West Adams Street, Los Angeles, in 1924.

I remember my mother told me the only other time her father visited her after he deserted the family was when she was about 14 years old (which would have been around 1925) and the family was living in Los Angeles. My grandfather's mother, Elsie Jane Rouser Eubank, was living in Hollywood during that time, with her daughter, Laura Elsie, and her husband, Otto Classen, a fairly famous local artist who came to America from Germany in about 1898. Stephen's father had passed away while living in West Los Angeles in 1907, and is buried in the National Cemetery there, since he was a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Evelyn is listed in the California Voters Registration records, and from about 1928 to 1934 is living at 3512 West 67th Street, Los Angeles, and is listed as a home maker and a Republican. From 1934 to 1936, she is living at a nearby address at 1033 E. 66th Street, is listed as being a broker (real estate ?), and a Democrat. Uncle Jim is living there with her in 1936. Evelyn is listed as a sales lady and Jim is listed as working in maintenance. By 1936, my Aunt Louise was married to her husband, Alfred John Koegler, and my mother, Frances Amelia Eubank, had married my father, Halley Dale Smith, in July of 1932. But both Louise and Frances living in Inglewood, not far from where her mother and brother were living on West 67th Street.

In the 1940 U.S. Census, Evelyn was 53 years old, Uncle Jim was 24 years old , and they were living at 1033 E. 66th Street in Inglewood. Now Jim was listed as a real estate salesman, and his income that year was $900. Evelyn does not appear to have an occupation or income in this census record. They own their home, which was valued at $2,000. The record says they lived in the same place in 1935. According to city directories, Evelyn was still at the same address from 1944 to 1950, but in 1952, she was living at 8520 South Grand, and in 1954, at 5847 South Figueroa Street, which is where I remember her living when she passed away in 1956. Uncle Jim joined the service in about 1943 or 1944, and information about his outfit is below, which is taken from the following website:

http://www.guardianspies.com/research.html

  • **Operational Swimmer Group II trained in Coronado, the Bahamas, and Guantanamo Bay and was deployed to Burma, Ceylon, and Kandy in the China, Burma, and India Theater January 1944 – 15 April 1945. O.S.G. II was attached to O.S.S. Detachment 101, 404, and 505.***

LT John P. Booth, USCGR (Bronze Star/CO of O.S.G. II)

CPHM Herman Becker, USCG

COX John C. Carroll, USCGR (Bronze Star)

  • **CBM James R. Eubank, USCGR***

COX Donald W. Fulton, USCGR

RM1/c John H. Harrigan, USCGR

MoMM1/c Everett W. MacDonald, USCGR (Bronze Star)

CWO Thomas O. Medlicott, USCGR

BM2/c Gerald Puetz, USCGR

BM1/c Louis Pulgencio, USCGR

COX Jack Reeves, USCGR (Bronze Star)

COX Gordon P. Thorigal, USCGR (Bronze Star)

MoMM1/c George E. Webster, USCGR (Commandant’s Citation)

BM2/c Eugene M. Ward, USCGR

BM2/c Carl Spohn, USCGR

After the war, Uncle Jim married Vera Pauline Hulse of Hollywood, California, on October 25, 1945. Vera was born December 11, 1922 at 3 o'clock in Los Angeles, California. The first home they lived in after their marriage was a travel trailer loaned to them by my parents, Frances Amelia Eubank and Halley Dale Smith. They parked the travel trailer in a park located in the city of Huntington Park, California. Later, Jim and Vera lived for a while with her mom and dad at their home. After that, Uncle Jim's real estate partner, Ed Bungee, had a place he rented to them. They painted it, fixed it up, and Jim began selling real estate with Mr. Bungee, which he did for about two years, and then Jim and Vera moved to a new home located at 9828-1/2 Vidor Drive, in West Los Angeles. They lived there for about three years, and their first son, Robert Glenn Eubank, was born at Santa Monica hospital in 1947 while they were living there.

After that, Uncle Jim started developing single family homes in the Hollywood Hills. They developed property in Stone Canyon, which bordered on Sherman Oaks, Belair and Holmby Hills, three very exclusive areas of Southern California. Later they moved to the San Fernando Valley where they lived at 4626-1/2 Van Nuys Boulevard. Their son, Gerald (Jerry) was born in January, 1951. By 1952, the family is living at 14931 Dickens Street, which was also in the valley. In1954 they were living at 15047 Marble Drive in Stone Canyon near Mulholland Drive. After developing the homes in Stone Canyon, they moved to 17th Street in Newport Beach around 1960. Uncle Jim built a 65' long boat which they used for fishing junkets to Mexico. Later they lived in a beautiful home located at 2015 Sabrina Terrace in Newport Beach where they lived until the late 1960's. I remember visiting them there when I was about 15 years old, which would have been sometime around 1966.

While living in Newport, Aunt Vera joined a local women's club. She remembers not having a lot of furniture at the time, and having apple boxes in the living room for the women's meetings. They formed a musical group, and Aunt Vera played the violin and had a pianist accompany her. The group was built up to about 30 women, and later they met at the Balboa Bay Club.

In the early 1970's Uncle Jim started looking at land in San Marcos and Oceanside in Northern San Diego County. Jim and Vera sold their beautiful home in Newport/Corona del Mar, and bought land in San Marcus for the development of Old California Restaurant Row. At the time, they lived in a trailer which was located up the hill from the Old California development. They lived there for about a year and half while Old California was being built, and later moved to Encinitas for a while. They bought a home in a new development there, where they lived for about two years. Vera remembers sewing curtains for that new home. She also held the Open Houses when it came time to sell the place, even though she was not a licensed Realtor herself. But she always assisted Uncle Jim in all of his real estate efforts, and later their two sons both became Realtors as well.

After selling their home in Encinitas, Jim and Vera they bought a 40 acre mountain top on Wilshire Road in Oceanside and built a one bedroom, one bath, guest house with a living room, dining room and kitchen. Uncle Jim said they would live in the guest house until the main house was built, which was finally completed about eleven years later. When Old California was built, the fish restaurant Vera Cruz was not there yet, but the Red Onion restaurant was there at that time. In 1972 they started building the Mercado, and had a fruit and vegetable stand where they sold produce they raised on their Oceanside mountain top. Vera was the cashier at the store, and started a cooking school to help the local women figure out what to do with fresh fruits and vegetables. Vera's mom made pies on Saturday and they always sold out at the store. People remembered Vera's mom's pies for years after she stopped making and selling them, they were that good! Especially the coconut cream pies. Vera's mom lived to be 97 years old!

Uncle Jim and Aunt Vera lived at their home in Oceanside for the last 30 years of his life, when Jimm passed away after suffering from a stroke at the age of 88 in March of 2004. Aunt Vera still lives on the property, and two years ago celebrated her 90th birthday with party there with about 60-70 friends and family members in attendance. It was quite an event, with jazz pianist, Bobby Cressy, and a bass player, plus Vera's son Jerry on the flute, and her daughter-in-law, Susan Walsh Eubank, singing some beautiful old songs from the days when Vera was a young woman. The party was catered with a sit-down dinner for all the guests, and it was a lovely event! The only thing that would have made it better was if Uncle Jim was there by her side. But as my cousin Bob said, Jim was there with all of us in spirit!

I will always remember my Uncle Jim being a very charming, classy and gregarious guy, and also that he tried to teach me how to swim. Aunt Vera was a wonderful hostess and held lovely dinner parties which my parents and I enjoyed very much. Their home in Corona Del Mar was gorgeous had a beautiful ocean view, and we always enjoyed visiting them there...but the home they built on their Oceanside mountain top is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, with lovely palm, orange, and avocado trees, and their beautiful hacienda with its lovely patio has a 360 degree view of the mountains and the ocean. What a great place for two fantastic people to live! I love you Uncle Jim and Aunt Vera, you are two of the most special people I've known during my entire life of 61 years, second only to my parents, Halley Dale Smith and Frances Amelia Eubank Smith. I will always look up to both of you as my heroes!

Written by Della Dale Smith, their niece. Rest in peace, Uncle Jim, and know that you are missed very much by those who knew and loved you! _______________________________

Obituary: LA Times March 5, 2004


James R. Eubank, 87; Developer Set Swimming Records in His 80's

By Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer

James R. Eubank, major real estate developer in Los Angeles and San Diego counties who set Amateur Athletic Union world swimming records as an octogenarian, has died. He was 87. Eubank died Monday at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, Calif., after suffering two strokes and a brain hemorrhage February 28.

In his 60's, Eubank developed Old California Restaurant Row, an enclave of some 20 restaurants in San Marcos, California, surrounded by shops and entertainment venues. Until his stroke, he worked daily in his management office at the north San Diego County complex.

Whether developing apartments or restaurants, offering candid opinions on development to the San Marcos City Council or streaking through the water on his daily 2,000-yard swim, Eubank seemed larger than life to those who encountered him. "He had this huge shock of thick white hair. He looked like Lloyd Bridges at 50," Rick Reilly wrote of Eubank in Sports Illustrated last year. At the time, Eubank held numerous world records in AAU masters swim competitions for the 85 to 89-year-old category.

He would set a record one year only to break it the next. He had won the annual Rough Water Swim in La Jolla every year in his age group for decades. In fact, he had earned so many medals he had lost count. They overflowed his office coat rack and had to be stored in boxes.

Nevertheless, last year Sports Illustrated's forty-something Reilly brashly challenged Eubank to a private swim competition — hoping Eubank's pacemaker and recent hernia operation might slow him down. The sportswriter lost.

"He beat me by about a length, but he could've beaten me by about the length of Omaha Beach," Reilly reported. "While he swam, it hit me that this is one of the coolest men I'd ever come across. Heroic. Classy. Brave. Buffed. Wise. Kind."

Born in Seattle, Eubank worked from childhood after his father abandoned the family when he was 5. He sold newspapers, worked in a gold mine and did other odd jobs. After moving to Los Angeles, he took night courses at USC to become a real estate broker, taught himself to swim and became a city lifeguard.

By the mid-1930s, he was swimming competitively against the likes of "Tarzan" star and 1932 Olympic gold medalist Buster Crabbe.

As World War II loomed, Eubank joined the Coast Guard. Known for his swimming prowess, he was one of 28 men recruited from all branches of the military for a secretive underwater reconnaissance unit — a forerunner of the Navy SEALs and Army Special Services.

Sent to Burma as a "frogman," he swam through Japanese-controlled waters scouting enemy-held beaches.

In 1998, Eubank and other survivors of the "special regiment" were lauded for their underwater intelligence and sabotage efforts and given honorary green berets and membership in the Special Forces.

As a Los Angeles developer after the war, Eubank and a partner bought 70 acres near Baldwin Hills, one of the last areas still not subdivided on an original Spanish land grant passed down through heirs of E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin, and turned it into the site of apartments for 10,000 residents.

Eubank went on to build large tracts of homes in the Hollywood Hills and in the Stone Canyon area of Sherman Oaks, among other locations.

Throughout his life, he was never far from a swimming pool, which helped him maintain his muscular 160-pound, 5-foot-11 frame and youthful appearance.

"This masters swimming program is the greatest thing that ever happened to guys like me who like to swim," he told The Times in 1972, when the AAU program for swimmers older than 50 was in its third year. "It's fun to compete…. There's no reason why a track guy or a swimmer or a gymnast can't compete all his life. Why stop just because you leave school?"

When he was interviewed, Eubank had just defeated Crabbe in the 1,500-meter event — 33 years after Crabbe had beaten him in an annual two-mile swim around Balboa Island. "I finally got even," Eubank said, laughing.

Asked last year what goals could possibly be left, he told Sports Illustrated: "Well, the next age group is 90 and above. So, in a year or two I'm going to have to start getting in shape again."

Eubank is survived by his wife of 58 years, Vera; two sons, Jerry of Honolulu and Bob of Encinitas, California, and two grandchildren, Meili and Tai James Eubank.

Services are pending. _____________________________

Memorial Planned for James Eubank

March 09, 2004

A memorial service for James R. Eubank is scheduled Sunday at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Oceanside, Calif. Eubank, 87, who died March 1 in Oceanside, was a champion swimmer, real estate developer and pioneering World War II underwater demolitionist and reconnaissance expert with the Office of Strategic Services maritime unit, which set the stage for the modern Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces. ____________

In addition to the memorial held for James Rollins Eubank, there is a plaque in his honor at the Helen Bougher Memorial Park located in San Marcos, California. The plaque reads..."James R. Eubank, CBM-USCG-OSS MU Operational Swimmer, Group 2, CBI Theatre WWII. One of the USA's first frogmen operatives to use the re-breather scuba equipment. He was an inspiration to all."

Here is information about the veteran's memorial at Helen Bougher Memorial Park from the city of San Marcos website:

http://www.ci.san-marcos.ca.us/index.aspx?page=471

The All Veterans Memorial is now open at Helen Bougher Park in San Marcos. The park is located at the corner of Woodland Parkway and Borden Road. The memorial honors any veteran who has served or is honorably serving in the United States Armed Services.

The memorial includes a slightly curved wall with veterans' names etched on Travertine marble tiles. Permanent tile markers may be purchased to honor a loved one that is a veteran.

When completed, the site will include an illuminated American flag with five flags representing each branch of the armed services and a POW/MIA flag. There will also be three bronze statues of soldiers "guarding" the memorial.

A group of San Marcos community volunteers raised money for the construction of the memorial project. The City of San Marcos provides park space and ongoing maintenance of the site.

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James Rollins Eubank's Timeline

1915
September 12, 1915
Seattle, King, Washington, United States
1945
October 20, 1945
Age 30
2004
March 1, 2004
Age 88
Oceanside, San Diego, California, United States
March 14, 2004
Age 88
Oceanside, San Diego, California, USA