Gainesville real estate developer Bradley Abernathy was remembered today as a hard-working businessman, but one who was always quick with a joke.
Abernathy died at home around noon following a brief illness.
"He leaves some awful big shoes to fill," Eddie Hartness, Abernathy's longtime friend and attorney, said.
Hartness said he was the kind of loyal friend who everyone wants to have and those around him couldn't help but have fun.
Abernathy never met a stranger, Hartness added, and if he did it wasn't long before they were friends. He often took his friends hunting and fishing and invited them over for barbecues on his farm in Habersham County.
Abernathy's friend of more than 35 years, Johnny Nivens, said Monday was one of the saddest days of his life.
"There's a void in me that won't be filled for a long time because he's not here anymore," Nivens said.
Nivens today remembered spending time with Abernathy hunting in South Dakota as well as gardening at his farm.
"He loved life and he loved enjoying life with his friends," Nivens said. "He created more good times for more people than anybody I ever knew."
Abernathy was also a successful businessman.
Hartness called Abernathy a "real estate visionary" because he developed several areas and buildings in Gainesville that others didn't consider. Among his developments are the old Regions bank building at the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Jesse Jewell Parkway and two nearby shopping centers also on E.E. Butler.
"His life and his vision have left a permanent imprint on Gainesville," Hartness said.
Abernathy's longtime business partner, Theresa Huss, worked with him on those projects.
"He was very easy to work with - totally open and hones," Huss said. "I never had to second guess what he was saying."
Abernathy worked with David Scroggs on several other ventures and the two were partners for nearly 30 years.
"Bradley was a good guy," Scroggs said. "He always paid attention to all his details and made sure everything was going to go the way it should."
Hartness said of all the people he has represented, Abernathy was one of his favorites because he always wanted to do what was right. He said Abernathy was a hard competitor in the real estate industry but above all he was an honest man trying to do the right thing.
"I'd rather have his word than most people's contract," Hartness said.
Another longtime friend and business partner, Wade Lindorme, praised Abernathy for his sense of business and integrity.
A service will be held 2 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, 751 Green St. Memorial Park North is in charge or arrangements.