Loran "Dale" Emery
August 26, 1916 - December 15, 2014

Loran "Dale" Emery was born to George & Lulu (Benjamin) Emery on August 26, 1916, in Beresford, South Dakota. He died at home on Monday, December 15, 2014.

Growing up on a farm in the South Dakota plains during both the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Dale's childhood was far from easy. His family constantly struggled to make ends meet and often had to rely upon the kindness of others. When Dale was seven, his father suffered a debilitating injury and was no longer able to work, so Dale and his brothers were forced to take over all the farm duties. Dale was able to go to school until the eighth grade, but then took a four-year hiatus while he ran the farm. In a time where education was a luxury many farmers couldn't afford, and he was already older than the other students, he insisted on attending high school with his sister, despite his father's protests. While in school, he still took care of all of the family's livestock and also worked for the WPA so his family wouldn't starve. The next year, he won the contract for the local school bus route and made his own horse-drawn bus.

After graduating high school in 1937, with virtually no job prospects on the horizon, Dale agreed to drive three single women to their new home in Oregon. He took a bus to Junction City and enlisted the help of a family friend to find work. He finally found a few farm jobs.

In March of 1938, Dale met Helen "Betty" Giddings at a party where he was singing and she was playing piano. She had a car and graciously offered him a ride home.  He once wrote, "From that point on, nothing else seemed to be of any significance. I knew at once she was what I had been looking for my whole life." Dale married "Betts," as he affectionately called her, on July 9, 1939. They built a life together centered around family, friends and shared hobbies. As a couple, they played bridge and danced, and grew deep roots in the Stayton community. They were well-known as huge supporters of Stayton High School athletics, starting when their children were in school, and continuing until Betty's final years.  They had season tickets to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for 13 years.  They also had season tickets to the Salem Concert Band. Trivia buffs, they never missed an episode of Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. For the better part of a century, Dale and his Betts were inseparable.

Before starting his own business, Dale worked in the shipyards during World War II, worked for a construction company, and then eventually worked on the Detroit Dam project, which brought his family to Stayton. He worked for his brother developing memorial parks for several years after that. When the City of Stayton chose to require residents on his street to pay for curbs and sidewalks, Dale decided to save some money and pour his own. His neighbors were so impressed with his work that they asked him to do theirs as well. And without Dale even realizing it, Emery & Sons Construction was born, when Dale was 51 years old.  It started as Dale alone, then grew to his children and future son-in-law, then slowly but surely kept growing until it had nearly 200 employees. Dale continued working until he turned 90, at which point he retired and sold the company.

People who worked for Dale know that while he wasn’t always the easiest man to work for, he took great pride in taking care of his employees and providing quality workmanship. His dedication to perfection is what earned his company its stellar reputation and success.

The community will remember Dale for his generous spirit and philanthropy, doing things like buying all the canned food at the Stayton High Booster Auction, and then donating it to the food bank so he could help two organizations at once. A two-fer, he’d have called it.

Friends will remember how music played a huge role in Dale’s life. It was how he met the love of his life, and it was how he kept himself going after she passed. He was a born performer. Dale joined the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association at 90 and spent hours practicing his music or jamming with friends.

His family will never forget Sunday morning hotcakes, a tradition for more than 70 years. They’ll remember his love of animals, his awesome apple pies, how he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, his endless array of silly stories, songs and poems, and the fact that he didn’t hesitate to grant second chances. He wasn’t afraid to show emotion, but unquestionably shed many more tears from laughter in this life than sadness. And he always kept the cookie jar full.

Dale is survived by his sister, Clista Gray, sons, Clay (Kim) Emery and Larry (Nancy) Emery, daughter, Darlene (Rich) Manning, 10 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren, and five great-great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Betty (1921-2012), parents, George (1880-1963) and Lulu (1879-1972), stepmother Marie (1890-1976), brother, Clayton (1909-1976), stepbrother, Norman (1911-2006), and sisters, Guida (1914-1999), Vylo (1920-2014), and Ilah Jean (1929-1999).

The family would like to thank Leslie Ward, Karen Schaefer, and Santiam Hospital staff for their hard work and excellent care. We are eternally grateful.

To honor Dale's memory, his family has planned a Celebration of Life for Sunday, December 28, 1:00 p.m., at the Stayton High School Gymnasium.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Willamette Humane Society or Stayton High School athletics. Arrangements by North Santiam Funeral Service

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