|Posted On-line: Thursday, March 1, 2012; Published in The Enterprise, Blair, NE, Friday, March 2, 2012|
Rev. John W. Emslie Jr., 68
Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church
Rev. John W. Emslie Jr., 68, of Blair, died Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, at Memorial Community Hospital in Blair. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 4, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Blair. There is no visitation.
John W. Emslie Jr. was born May 14, 1943, in Chicago, Ill., to John W. Sr. and Helen (Schiller) Emslie.
He graduated from Concordia Prep School in Milwaukee, Wis. After high school graduation, he attended Kendall College and later, Aurora College in Illinois.
In 1965, he was drafted into the United States Army and served until his honorable discharge in 1967.
On March 16, 1968, he was united in marriage to his wife, Martha Jean.
He received his master’s degree in education from Concordia College in River Forest. He attended seminary at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. Before his graduation, he served as director of Christian education in Aberdeen, S.D. In 1984, after seminary, he began preaching at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Topeka, Kan. In 1998, he and his family moved to Blair where he became pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church. He was serving at Trinity at the time of his death.
Pastor Emslie was a vital member of the Washington County Ministerial Association, Rebuilding Together Washington County and, after the flooding of 2011, the Long-Term Recovery Committee. He enjoyed spending time on his motorcycle and was a member of the Goldwing Club. Every year, he attended the Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kan.
He is survived by his wife, Martha Jean, of Blair; sons, John Emslie III of Topeka, Kan., and Christopher Emslie of Chicago; three grandchildren; sister and brother-in-law, Diane and Kenneth Brody of California; stepbrother and wife, Kenneth and Charlene Booster of Indiana, and stepsister and husband, Carol and John Garrow of Illinois.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his stepfather, Lorain Booster; and a sister, Dona Mohr.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the family to be directed to Pastor Emslie’s many favorite charities.
Campbell-Aman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Posted On-line: Monday, February 27, 2012; Published in the Pilot Tribune, Tuesday, February 28, 2012
As pastor, community volunteer, Emslie was 'everything to everybody'
With his striking waxed moustache and his roaring motorcycle, Rev. John Emslie was a vibrant and valuable presence in the Blair community.
Emslie, 68, died of a heart attack Sunday, Feb. 26, at his home in Blair. Services are pending.
The pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church was involved in many community groups, including Joseph’s Coat and the Washington County Food Pantry, of which he was a board member.
“He was just everything to everybody,” said Kathy Brechbill, manager of Joseph’s Coat and the Washington County Food Pantry. “There was not a soul he didn’t know. There was no one he wouldn’t help. He was probably the greatest asset our community has as far as being there for everyone. We’re all going to miss him deeply.”
“Everybody knew him,” said Kristen Grote, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church. “He wasn’t your traditional pastor. He was an everyday person and I think that’s why people related to him. He made it very clear he was not perfect and he always stressed that anyone can be saved from any walk of life.”
Grote recalled through tears that Emslie baptized her daughter Emma on one of his first Sundays in Blair. Emma, now 13, was to be in the final confirmation class Emslie planned to teach this year before retiring.
“Everybody connected with him,” Grote said. “He loved people and he felt it genuinely, it wasn’t something he felt he needed to do to represent the church. That’s living a Christian attitude as opposed to just feeling obligated because you are a member of the clergy.”
Emslie made his mark in several different ways in Blair. Grote said she and others had talked to Martha-Jean Emslie about what organizations should be notified of her husband’s death, “and it was kind of overwhelming trying to think of who all we should make sure and let know.”
The Rev. Gregg Miller of the Fort Calhoun Presbyterian Church worked side-by-side with Emslie on a number of projects, most notably the Washington County Ministerial Association’s “Good Samaritan” fund.
As the longtime treasurer of the association, Miller said Emslie was responsible for paying the bills and keeping people in their homes, paying for utilities, and providing aid of many types. Miller stressed that Emslie believed in honesty and responsibility.
“He was very honest and blunt at times, but that’s the way he wanted people to be, “said Miller. “He didn’t want the WCMA to become an ‘enabling’ organization; we wanted people to get back on their feet so they didn’t have to rely on the government or any other organization. He wanted people to take responsibility.”
Brechbill had known Emslie since she started at the pantry seven years ago. She recalled he would rally his church to donate items when the pantry was low on supplies, and that he always had a smile and a joke for her.
“There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t get a joke,” she said. “He would just lift me up. That’s just the way he was.”
Emslie had been involved with another local group, Rebuilding Together Washington County, since its founding. The group used local volunteers and donations to help make repairs for those who were physically and financially unable to make repairs themselves. The focus was on keeping people in their homes.
Tom Kegler of Herman, vice president of the local Rebuilding Together group, worked closely with Emslie on the program.
“There are so few people left who take a genuine interest in our community and are willing to dedicate their time to help others,” said Kegler. “John will be missed.”
Emslie was also extremely active with the Ministerial Association. As part of that group, he was a regular participant in the weekly “devotion” series in this newspaper. Behind the scenes, he was even more active.
Rev. Pam Ciulla of Blair is the new president of the WCMA.
“He was one of the first to welcome me to the group,” recalls Ciulla. “He was so committed as our treasurer. I just rued the day when we would lose him in this role.”
“He had an ecumenical heart and worked well and encouraged others,” said Ciulla. “He was very sensible about the work we are doing in the community.”
Rev. Bob Meanor of Crowell Memorial Home was also close to Emslie. The pair had lunch together at least once a month for the past 10 years.
“We shared joys and concerns and prayed for each other,” said Meanor. “He was my closest ministerial friend.”
Emslie had many interests, Meanor said, not the least of which included traditional country music, motorcycles, and carpentry. He also loved riding his Honda Goldwing motorcycle.
“I don’t know how he ever found time to sleep with all the things he did,” said Meanor. “He was just a marvel, all of the things he was able to accomplish. The whole community will miss him.”
Meanor said Emslie had shared with him that his core values in life were honesty, friendship and determination.
“The words he wanted to be remembered by are, “I will share the Lord with people,’” said Meanor.
~~~Obituaries courtesy of Washington County Genealogical Association; newspaper clippings on file at the Public Library, Blair, Nebraska ~~~