"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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
family would like to thank Leslie Ward, Karen Schaefer, and
Santiam Hospital staff for their hard work and excellent care.
We are eternally grateful.
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.
lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to
Willamette Humane Society or Stayton High School athletics.
by North Santiam