John Emery

John M Emery

1931 - 2022

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John M. Emery II, formerly of Lawrence, NY, son of Harvey Charles and Mary Carter
Emery, died on Thursday September 29 at the age of 91. He is survived by his loving wife
of 66 years, Patricia (née Monroe), his daughter, Deborah Emery Maine, three
grandchildren; Emery Greenwood (Thomas), Jack and Libbie Maine, and three great
grandchildren; Jamie, Georgia, and Lila Greenwood, to whom he is lovingly known as
“Big John.” He is also survived by his friend and brother-in-law Bayard Henry, and his
many devoted nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his son Dr. John (Jake) Emery, a
neurosurgeon who died in 2008, and his sisters Mary Barnhill and Julie Henry.
A resident of Sea Island, GA and Lansdale, PA in his last years, John Emery spent the
majority of his adult life in the New York City metropolitan area. He and wife Patsy
resided in Lawrence, NY for over 50 years, where they raised their two children Jake and
Debbie. Through this period, John cultivated his career as a corporate and finance attorney
while dedicating much of his time to the Foundations and Boards on which he served as a
Trustee. To his peers, colleagues, and friends, John’s font of knowledge, curious
disposition, steadfast and honest nature often informed the highest level of decisions while
also providing comfort and confidence in turbulent moments. His voice was not usually
the loudest in the room, but his words were often the most highly valued opinion. A man
of principle, shaped in large part through his spiritual upbringing, those close to him best
remember him for his humble nature and strong moral compass. A gentleman through and
through, John never sought recognition or status. He was a listener and a learner, always
focused on the bigger picture, and calculated in the delivery of his ideas. He asked hard
questions, was never too proud to admit what he did not know, and welcomed the input of
others, establishing a reputation as one of the most respected leaders and highly regarded
advisors of his generation.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1931, John's childhood years were shaped deeply by the
Great Depression and World War II. Growing up in a household that valued service and
spirituality, he liked to describe his childhood ethos as “late Victorian”; one that held
people to higher standards of formality and restraint than we are accustomed to today.
John's father, the football coach and banker Harvey Charles Emery, served as a naval
intelligence officer during World War II. Holding great influence on the personal and
professional education of his children, the elder Emery strongly believed that a moral
education and a business one went hand in hand, a mentality that his son would carry with
him throughout his life. The authentic blend of old world formality mixed with an
openness to innovation and change is something that John uniquely embodied. Proper but
not rigid, reserved but never cold, and motivated but never materialistic. Above all he was
relentless in his pursuit to take care of the people and institutions most important to him.

John’s mother, Mary Carter Emery, was the daughter of William Spencer Carter, a world
renowned physician and researcher who served for nearly 20 years as the Dean of the
University of Texas Medical Branch. He then took a position with the Rockefeller
Foundation, where he played a pivotal role in developing medical schools in the
Philippines, India, Australia. South Africa, New Zealand, China and Java. John’s paternal
grandfather, his namesake, built a name for himself in the New York shipping business.
For high school, John attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where he graduated in 1949.
Both of his children would eventually follow him to Exeter, the place he credits for
teaching him and his children many of the principles that would guide him through his
many pursuits in life. After graduating from Exeter, John enrolled at Princeton University,
his father’s college alma mater. In college, he played on two national championship
lacrosse teams and also served as captain in his senior year. He graduated in 1953. Both of
his children, Jake and Debbie, would go on to attend Princeton, followed later by John's
granddaughters, Emery and Libbie.
After graduation, John served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1953 to 1955.
He never once doubted his patriotic obligation to serve his country in uniform, just as his
forebears had before him. Following his discharge from the Marines, he enrolled at
Harvard Law School where he earned his degree in 1958. While a law student, he married
Patricia “Patsy” Monroe on August 8, 1956 at Trinity-St. John’s Church in Hewlett, NY.
After graduating from Harvard Law, he joined the New York law firm of Breed, Abbott &
Morgan. Quickly ascending to partner, he stayed with the firm for over 25 years. He
commuted daily from his Long Island home into Manhattan, where he established himself
as a prominent lawyer, trusted advisor, astute investor, and above all, a steadfast leader and
loyal friend among his peers and colleagues. In addition to his work as a corporate
attorney, he took great pride and fulfillment out of the work he was able to do as a trustee
for the foundations and boards on which he served. He was a director on many corporate
boards, including Champion Products, Overseas National Airways, and Pan-Ocean Oil
while also volunteering with small community organizations and educational institutions.
John’s expertise ranged across multiple industries and specialties. A successful lawyer by
trade, his role as an investment advisor on the Foundations he served truly defines his
legacy. John served as a managing trustee at the Penzance Foundation and the Deerbrook
Charitable Trust, however his greatest achievement lies in his role as a Founding Trustee
of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, where he served as Chair of its Investment
Committee from 1970 until his retirement in 2005. John had a close personal relationship
to the foundation's namesake (Edna) as well as her husband, Van Alan, and as a trustee, his
top priority was to ensure that the Foundation's work and resources were aligned directly

with the family's philanthropic goals and values. Known as the Foundation,s “super
trustee,” John participated in all board and program meetings, always utilizing a hands-on
approach that allowed the staff to maximize the impact of the Foundation's work. Under
John's careful financial stewardship, the Foundation granted over $668 million to
nonprofits dedicated to improving life prospects of economically disadvantaged children
and families. During this same period of time, the Foundation more than quadrupled its
value, all while following John’s principle of “not chasing the latest trends.”
Outside of his work, John lived a simple and satisfying life. There was no role he
cherished more than that of “Big John.” He enjoyed a good dog walk on the golf course
that sat adjacent to his family home, and watching a ball game on tv. John was a dedicated
parishioner of Trinity-St John’s Church in Hewlett, NY, and a long-standing member and
neighbor of the Rockaway Hunting Club in Lawrence, NY. He was also a member of the
Lawrence Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, NY and the Cedarhurst Yacht Club. John was a
proud member of the Links Club in New York City, as well as the Sea Island Club and
Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, GA. A lifelong golfer, John enjoyed nothing more
than playing with his kids and grandkids, even if he was just driving the cart during his
later years. A lover of all sports, John could always be trusted for up-to-date player and
team stats, standings, and scores both in the professional and collegiate leagues. He was
famous for his three egg-and-bacon breakfasts, which were a weekend staple in the Emery
household. Black coffee was served at all times of day. He was known for his incisive wit,
his selfless demeanor, and his generosity of spirit; always giving of both his time and
John Emery lived a full life. One of few remaining treasures from a great generation. He
will be remembered for his loyalty and service, perspective, wisdom, class and kindness.
The depth and breadth of his experiences, the respect he earned through years of hard
work, as well as his unconditional love for his family, are inspirations for those he has left
behind. His stewardship, service and commitment to his family, his community, and his
country will never be forgotten.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures: he
leadeth me beside the still waters.”

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Funeral Service

11:00 am
Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
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John Emery

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John Emery

1931 - 2022

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