News Column

Roanoker known for love of silver screen [Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA)]

July 13, 2013


President and co-founder of Blue Ridge-Southwest Virginia Film office, Sandra Eubank, died while on vacation on June 30. She was 65.

Though Eubank made a career out of nursing - she worked for 35 years as a registered nurse in the Roanoke Valley - she devoted just as much heart and time to her passion: movies.

Eubank, a native of Cleveland, Tenn., was born on Feb. 5, 1948. According to a news release, Eubank was an extras casting director for films such as "Dirty Dancing," "What About Bob," and "Crazy People" - all of which were filmed in Southwest Virginia. She was also an extras casting director for commercials for Coca-Cola and the American Red Cross.

She served as the president of the Vision Film Festivals, with film competitions held annually in Roanoke. She created the John Payne Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to the likes of Patricia Neal, Mickey Rooney and William Christopher (from the television show "MASH"). She also founded Second Foundation, a writer's organization that helps new writers and brings in professional writers as guest speakers to promote their work.

According to Margaret Gregory, a childhood friend, Eubank always loved arts and film.

"We'd go down to the Roanoke Theatre all the time. She always wanted to act and get her name out there," Gregory recalled. Gregory added that Eubank helped start RoVaCon, which is a convention for science fiction fans.

"She was a huge fan of science fiction and wanted to get people together who share the same interests," Gregory said.

Eubank's daughter, Regina Desper, said her mother met many actors through the convention, including William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, famous for their "Star Trek" roles, and Sylvester Stallone of the "Rambo" and "Rocky" movies. Desper said meeting these people made her mother want to get more involved in movies.

Michael Wright, a close friend of Eubank's for nearly 40 years, said she knew no limits.

"If she wanted to do something she would do it," he said.

In 1974, Eubank received the "Caring Hands Award" for nursing excellence. Desper said her mother first worked at LewisGale Medical Center as a licensed practical nurse before graduating from the Jefferson College of Health Science as a registered nurse. She spent most of her career at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Desper said her mother died from an infection from a previous surgery. The infection spread and she was rushed to the hospital while on vacation in Missouri.

Wright said that about four years ago Eubank had a stroke, but worked hard to come back from its effects. He added that it is a sad loss for everyone who knew her, especially because her husband, Donald, died in 2008.

"They were a great team, and will be missed," he said.

Eubank is survived by a large family, which includes three children and 11 grandchildren.

According to the film office website, Eubank wrote a book called "Room 409," which is based on paranormal stories from her nursing years, and was working on a new book just before she died.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today at Green Ridge Baptist Church in Roanoke.

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