From Staff Reports
Erik Gallman, an artist, historian, businessman, craftsman, church deacon and carpenter, has left a deep and lasting impact on his community that people probably still don’t fully realize, those who knew him said.
Gallman co-owned Fiddleheads Garden Center off of Walnut Avenue and was living in an old house he was renovating in Murray County where he was found dead on Friday. Former Fairy Valley Baptist Church pastor Dwight Scott said his longtime friend was 33 and had missed teaching his regular Sunday school class this week because he was sick.
“He’s a good man,” Scott said. “We’ve lost a man that has left a pair of shoes that nobody will ever be able to fill. It doesn’t matter what you look at around the church and the community around there, Erik was involved in it.”
Those who knew him said Gallman donated paintings he had done of historic buildings, including the Fairy Valley church building in Crandall, possessed a talent for carpentry, and could create just about anything. When church members decided to put on a nativity scene that observers could drive through, Gallman made camels so lifelike that someone followed the trailer they were riding in in hopes of seeing the exotic animals unload.
Gallman, who graduated from Murray County High School in 1998, studied secondary science education at Kennesaw State University. After two years of teaching at Bagley Middle School, he decided the job wasn’t for him. By then, he was already operating a greenhouse he had owned in Crandall since 2002.
In 2010, Gallman was named executive secretary of the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society, a job that allowed him to indulge his love of antiques, history and so many things old-fashioned. Gallman and soon-to-be Fiddleheads business partner Sam Brown tossed around ideas of opening a business that involved nature in some way while they both worked at the historical society.
In 2011, the two, who had been childhood friends, left their jobs without having yet opened Fiddleheads, but with many plans for what they wanted to do. They began work almost immediately and by October 2011 were in business. In addition to offering a variety of plants, they specialized in providing Georgia-made products such as soaps, candles and sweets.
Church Pastor Johnny Beason said Gallman was one of the youngest deacons the church has had when he was appointed about 10 years ago. Gallman’s signature at the church and in the community is everywhere, he said.
“Especially with older things,” Beason said. “He was a young man, but he was into history. He just loved antiques and things.”
Historical society past president Carolyn Luffman said she worked briefly with Gallman in the organization but also knew him from teaching him in first grade at Northwest Elementary School. Gallman liked to draw and was creative even as a young child, she said. On top of that, she said, he was fun to be around.
“He always had a smile on his face,” she said. “He’s going to be missed.”
The historical society’s current president, Ellen Thompson, said it was a “tragedy to lose someone so young and talented.” Gallman was involved in several projects with the organization, including renovating the Crown Garden and Archives building.
“In Erik’s brief tenure with the historical society, he made a big impact,” she said. “Our hearts go out to him and his family.”
Just how much he’ll be missed may be hard for people to realize right now, Scott said.
“The community, the church, everybody will realize in the days to come more than now what a loss it is,” Scott said. “He was always there. It didn’t matter what it was, he was willing to help, and we’ll realize more in the days ahead than we do now just how much he did contribute and what he was to the community and to the church.”