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James Edward Emmerson
6/17/1950   -   August 29 , 2013

Obituary posted by : Walker Funeral Home  ,  Funeral Director   
Person Description:
Every neighborhood needs a James Emmerson.

When something went wrong or someone needed help in the Colerain Township community of Skyline Acres where he lived for 30 years, Mr. Emmerson got right on the phone.

Didn’t matter if it was a burned-out street light, an abandoned car, a downed power line or a fundraiser for the world-champion double Dutch jump-rope teams at his beloved Skyline Community Center. He knew the right people to call.

“When I was in office,” recalled Bernie Fiedeldey, a former Colerain Township trustee, “James called me six out of the seven days of the week. He knew how to ruffle feathers. But he also knew how to get things done to help the people in his community.

And, he never wanted any recognition for what he did. He just wanted results. As he always used to say before he got off the phone: ‘Hey! I pay taxes, too.’”

When he spotted illegal activity in his working-class neighborhood, Mr. Emmerson called Lt. Mark Schoonover, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy then serving as Skyline’s liaison officer, now the sheriff’s chief deputy.

“If we had one James Emmerson in every neighborhood,” Schoonover told the Enquirer in 2011, “there wouldn’t be any crime.”

Someone else is going to have to make those calls for Skyline Acres. Mr. Emmerson died Aug. 29. The Army veteran and retired Cincinnati Public Schools exterminator was 63.

“My father was a protector,” said his daughter, Tasha Cummings of Colerain Township. “He believed that your job is to take care of your parents, to take care of your family, to take care of your community.”

Mr. Emmerson performed his community work while quietly serving as the primary caregiver for his wife, Audrey, who suffers from severe diabetes, and his mother-in-law, Helen R. Bates, who has Alzheimer’s. He did not complain about his lot in life or ask for accolades.

“I look in the mirror every day,” he once told the Enquirer. “If you have to take care of someone, you just do it.”

For the last five years, Mr. Emmerson spent hundreds of unpaid hours tracking down new and used bicycles to give to neighborhood children at the Skyline Community Center just before Christmas. “If you give a child a bike, you give a sense of freedom, a sense of pride and a sense of responsibility,” he said in a 2008 interview. “You get the kid involved in the community instead of mischievous things.”

In the fall of 2012, he made many calls in hopes of keeping the Skyline center open despite a round of township budget cuts. It closed Dec. 31, 2012. So, he made more calls to make the center’s fate know throughout Cincinnati.

The center reopened in February thanks to the efforts of former Cincinnati Bengals placekicker Doug Pelfrey.

Mr. Emmerson explained why he went to such efforts for his community.

“You just can’t go home and go to sleep,” he said. “When it comes to helping people, to moving the community forward, I have no ‘off’ switch.”

In addition to Mr. Emmerson’s daughter, widow and mother-in-law, survivors include his sons, Walter Rice of Norwood and Robert Cummings of Pleasant Ridge, his brother, Dennis of Chester, S.C. as well as 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Visitation begins at 9 a.m. with the memorial service immediately following at 10 a.m. Saturday at Walker Funeral Home, 1025 E. McMillan Street, Walnut Hills (45206). Information: 513-251-6200. Memorials: Skyline Community Center, 8500 Pippin Road, Cincinnati, 45251.
Service Information:
Every neighborhood needs a James Emmerson. When something went wrong or someone needed help in the Colerain Township community of Skyline Acres where he lived for 30 years, Mr. Emmerson got right on the phone. Didn’t matter if it was a burned-out street light, an abandoned car, a downed power line or a fundraiser for the world-champion double Dutch jump-rope teams at his beloved Skyline Community Center. He knew the right people to call. “When I was in office,” recalled Bernie Fiedeldey, a former Colerain Township trustee, “James called me six out of the seven days of the week. He knew how to ruffle feathers. But he also knew how to get things done to help the people in his community. And, he never wanted any recognition for what he did. He just wanted results. As he always used to say before he got off the phone: ‘Hey! I pay taxes, too.’” When he spotted illegal activity in his working-class neighborhood, Mr. Emmerson called Lt. Mark Schoonover, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy then serving as Skyline’s liaison officer, now the sheriff’s chief deputy. “If we had one James Emmerson in every neighborhood,” Schoonover told the Enquirer in 2011, “there wouldn’t be any crime.” Someone else is going to have to make those calls for Skyline Acres. Mr. Emmerson died Aug. 29. The Army veteran and retired Cincinnati Public Schools exterminator was 63. “My father was a protector,” said his daughter, Tasha Cummings of Colerain Township. “He believed that your job is to take care of your parents, to take care of your family, to take care of your community.” Mr. Emmerson performed his community work while quietly serving as the primary caregiver for his wife, Audrey, who suffers from severe diabetes, and his mother-in-law, Helen R. Bates, who has Alzheimer’s. He did not complain about his lot in life or ask for accolades. “I look in the mirror every day,” he once told the Enquirer. “If you have to take care of someone, you just do it.” For the last five years, Mr. Emmerson spent hundreds of unpaid hours tracking down new and used bicycles to give to neighborhood children at the Skyline Community Center just before Christmas. “If you give a child a bike, you give a sense of freedom, a sense of pride and a sense of responsibility,” he said in a 2008 interview. “You get the kid involved in the community instead of mischievous things.” In the fall of 2012, he made many calls in hopes of keeping the Skyline center open despite a round of township budget cuts. It closed Dec. 31, 2012. So, he made more calls to make the center’s fate know throughout Cincinnati. The center reopened in February thanks to the efforts of former Cincinnati Bengals placekicker Doug Pelfrey. Mr. Emmerson explained why he went to such efforts for his community. “You just can’t go home and go to sleep,” he said. “When it comes to helping people, to moving the community forward, I have no ‘off’ switch.” In addition to Mr. Emmerson’s daughter, widow and mother-in-law, survivors include his sons, Walter Rice of Norwood and Robert Cummings of Pleasant Ridge, his brother, Dennis of Chester, S.C. as well as 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Visitation begins at 9 a.m. with the memorial service immediately following at 10 a.m. Saturday at Walker Funeral Home, 1025 E. McMillan Street, Walnut Hills (45206). Information: 513-251-6200. Memorials: Skyline Community Center, 8500 Pippin Road, Cincinnati, 45251.
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