Sunday evening, George Heery Jr. was doing what his neighbors had seen him do many times before: walking his Labrador retrievers Sherlock and Kovu in his Garden Hills neighborhood. With no apparent warning, a giant tree on Delmont Drive fell, pinning Heery, 55, to the ground. The dogs escaped. He died of his injuries.
“I’m still in shock about it. I just can’t believe it, the whole thing was so freaky,” said Jim Glover, who has been in a real estate firm with George and his brother Neal Heery for 15 years. “We would sit and talk for hours about real estate transactions. The three of us really hit it off.”
He said they discovered they had a mutual relative from Charleston.
George Thomas Heery, Jr., was born in Atlanta on October 23, 1967, to the late George T. Heery, Sr., and Maude Elizabeth Heery. He was the last of their four children. He earned an undergraduate degree from Catholic University and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University. His father, George Sr., and his paternal grandfather, Wilmer Heery, were both well-known architects. Two of his older siblings are also architects.
George Heery, Sr., was as well-known in Atlanta for living his values as he was for handling architecture projects around the world with Heery International. He hired both Black and female architects. He sat on the board of Spelman College. He embraced progressive ideas, entertainers and political candidates, even as his firm designed and built many of Atlanta’s iconic structures.
What was it like to have such a famous father? Neal Heery said George and he “were pleased to have been along for the ride.” Instead of becoming architects, the two went into business together in 2005 to sell real estate, but were still influenced by the family trade and values.
“As agents, we’ve found many of our clients are builders and renovators,” said Neal Heery. “They have a design approach to finding properties to buy and fix up or tear down. We like the design aspect of things.”
Like his father, George helped foster the success of peers from diverse backgrounds. Joy Andrews, a former team member, said George “held clients accountable to respect me as a Black woman.” A 2018 accident left her unable to walk for a year, but “George was one of the pair of legs God blessed me with,” she said.
In 2007, the firm of Heery Brothers became part of Atlanta Fine Homes, Sotheby’s International Real Estate.
Jimmy Barron, a Realtor with Keller Williams First Atlanta, said that George Heery was “always very upbeat, helpful and genuine. He wasn’t satisfied just with selling a property, he wanted to make sure the person buying the property was excited about it and was getting something of quality.”
What David Boehmig, President and CEO of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International, will remember about George is how he ended every conversation with “I appreciate you.”
George enjoyed cycling, running, swimming and walking. His priorities were his wife, Constance, and his two sons, Liam and Aidan, followed by his siblings and extended family, his business and his dogs.
“George was probably the most mature of all four of us children,” Neal said. “I’m the family jokester, but he was always earnest, honest, gracious. Like our father, he wanted to know peoples’ stories and to find out about them. I think he would be mystified that someone would think his death is newsworthy.”
George Heery was involved with Atlanta Lab Rescue, from which Constance and he adopted two “challenging” dogs, said Becky Cross, director of the organization. Instead of returning the dogs as some people do, “they pulled out all the stops, used our trainers and smoothed out the rough edges,” Cross said. “You wanted them to adopt every one of your dogs.”
George ran in 5k races for the group, attended every fund-raiser and party, and sponsored several events. On adoption day, he would drop by “just to hang out and pet all the dogs,” Cross said. “He was just the nicest person.”
In addition to his mother, immediate family and brother, George T. Heery, Jr., is survived by a brother, Shepherd Heery, his sister Laura Heery, and extended family. A service has been scheduled at the Cathedral of St. Phillip on Friday, June 30, at 10 a.m., with a reception to follow in Child Hall. There will be an internment in Westview Cemetery for the family. Anyone who wishes to donate in George’s memory can find a link on www.atlantalabrescue.com.