Robert Torras Sr., businessman, philanthropist and the son of the man who built the F.J. Torras Causeway, died Tuesday at the age of 86.
An engineer by profession, the retired St. Simons Island resident was the head of a family-owned operation that includes the Brunswick Landing Marina and Kut-Kwick Corp., both in Brunswick, and Torco Inc., a manufacturer in Kennesaw. He also developed West Point Plantation, on St. Simons Island, and had multiple other commercial real estate holdings in both the Atlanta metro area and Glynn County.
As reported previously in The News, Robert M. Torras Sr. “left his own indelible mark on the Golden Isles.”
Torras loved telling the story of how he obtained the land now occupied by Brunswick Landing Marina. After buying Kut Kwick, which had been in business since 1946 on Newcastle St., in 1978, he wanted more land on which to base his operation. All the surrounding land, including the waterfront, according to a previous News report, belonged to CSX Railroad, which didn’t want to sell the land in small parcels.
“So we bought all the land they had,” he reportedly said.
That purchase resulted in the development of the largest saltwater marina in Georgia.
Woody Woodside, retired president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, met Torras in 1973, while employed as a congressional aide to former U.S. Rep. Bo Ginn.
Woodside and Torras got to know each other better once Torras began developing Brunswick Landing Marina.
“He was very deliberate about his moves,” Woodside said. “He studied the waterways, marine life and shipping routes before planning the marina and determined there really was a need. He positioned it so that it’s out of the direct harm’s way of storms.”
Torras’ work to help spur legislative changes in regard to marinas paved the way for other commercial ventures like his, Woodside said.
Woodside said Torras didn’t mind speaking his piece.
“He had a vision, and he voiced it,” he said, adding that he was one of the first stakeholders in what is now known as the Golden Isles College & Career Academy. “He was a visionary, and he will be missed.”
Daren Pietsch is president of Torras Properties, and the other Torras operating companies, as well as a member of their respective boards of directors.
“I started working for Mr. Torras in January of 2019,” he said. “I had known Bob for a few years in a business capacity as former president of PaR Marine. When Bob learned that I left PaR after we sold the company, he called me in for a meeting and offered me the job.”
Pietsch said he is grateful he had the chance to work for Torras.
“If I were to say it was always easy, those who knew him would call me a liar, but there is no question that I learned much from him, and it certainly meant a lot when he expressed his appreciation for what we accomplished,” he said.
Torras’ attention to detail didn’t go unnoticed, nor did his visionary tendencies. Ever the pragmatist, Torras, Pietsch said, was always thinking of new approaches to solve issues.
“Sometimes he would ask me what should be done in a particular situation and he would seem to reject my suggestion, but then would come back after considering and agree,” he said. “I could always count on a call over the weekend whenever he thought of something he wanted to share with me or ask me about. I will miss those calls.”
His employees, Pietsch said, will miss Torras’ drive, energy, determination and intellect, and “that charming smile that he didn’t flash often enough if you worked for him.
“He was a man of vision and determination, and he never quit.”
Please see the full obituary on page 6A.