Roy Emanuel

Our Dad read the obituaries every single week and it always really ticked him off when it didn’t say how the person died.  We promised him that when it was his turn to have his story told, we wouldn’t leave all you dedicated readers wondering what happened.  However, before we tell you the story of Roy’s passing, you have to read about how he lived.  So buckle up folks, because this is the story of one of the great ones…the man, the myth, the legend, our Dad…Roy Nelson Emanuel.  
Dad was born on August 19, 1938.   He had fond memories of attending grammar school in Hamilton County (District 32 Deering), and recalls raising the flag every morning before school, the boys pumping the water into the crock for everyone to drink from during the day, and spending recess in the coal house playing mumbly peg and chatting with his friends.  He graduated from Phillips High School in 1956 as a multiple letter-winner.
After graduation, Roy attended Pasadena City College in preparation for his life-long goal, flying tactical high-performance aircraft.  After earning appointments to both the Naval Academy and the Air Force academy, he chose to enter the fourth cadet class at the US Air Force Academy, the first class of RTB’s, and the first class to complete all four years on their current campus in Colorado Springs. After discovering he wanted to be the toughest SOB in the room, he took his commission in the United States Marine Corps. He earned his wings of gold and went on to fly the A-4 Skyhawk for the VMA-311 Tomcats and the VMA-223 Bulldogs. He deployed to Iwakuni, Japan and from there to Chu Lai, Vietnam earning 8 Air Medals flying combat missions during the Vietnam Campaign.  After wrapping up his combat deployment, he molded young aviators as an advanced jet instructor pilot in Kingsville, TX.  
Dad won the lottery the day he met and married the love of his life Mary Lou (Heacock) Kimmel.  The unconditional love these two shared for 48 years was the stuff of fairytales.  They were married in San Diego, CA on February 5, 1970.  Mom and Dad told us a lot of stories about their time together in Southern California.  They loved spending time at the beach house, seeing performances at the Los Angeles Music Center (ask Mom about the time they saw Hair), attending the Final Four NCAA Basketball Tournament, going to Vegas (ask Mom about Sonny and Cher), and dining at La Biarritz.   They also enjoyed spending time on their land in the Black Hills of South Dakota, especially in 1970 when they spent the entire summer together thinning the trees with their two oldest children.
In 1979, they left behind the big city and moved to an acreage north of Aurora, where they spent the next 38 years raising their children, various animals (donkeys, turkeys, ducks, chickens, cows, and goats…so many goats), growing produce, and living life. Our fondest memories of the farm center around the holidays: playing canasta, drinking black and tans, listening to the Beatles, movie marathons, the Emanuel Steak-out, tractor bucket rides, and front porch chats. Even when all us children moved away to college and life, we often descended upon the farm to eat, drink and be merry.
We don’t always agree on everything, but one thing we can agree on is that Dad’s greatest accomplishment (other than the miraculous game winning recall of Mark McGwire during an epic battle of trivial pursuit) was raising his five children.  He was a stay-at-home Dad before stay-at-home Dads were a thing.  His strongest quality was patience in the maelstrom of all the activities and demands of the family and farm around him. All five of us are unique and different, and he somehow managed to bring out the best in each of us and love each of us just the way we are.  The legacy he leaves behind in his children is being passed to his grandchildren.  Dad will be remembered and talked about in front of the campfire or around the canasta table for many generations.  
The children and grandchildren who have the honor of carrying on Roy’s legacy are: Greg (Elisabeth) Kimmel: Katharine, Jack, and Tommy; Susan (Mark) Flanagan: Zach, Zoe, Zia, Zane Yurchuck; Amy Lou (Luke) Emanuel-Bassett: Anderson; Roy (Christy) Emanuel II: Claire, Roy III, Lily; Sara (Ciarón) Mullaney: Owen, Noah Nelson.
Dad was diagnosed with cancer on the 8th of May.  Unfortunately, the cancer was extremely aggressive, and despite starting treatment, he passed very peacefully on May 17th, 2018, three months and two days before his eightieth birthday.  All five of his children and Mary Lou were able to spend time with him and tell him how much they loved him before he died.  He definitely felt our love and presence until the very end.
We will be honoring Dad with a Celebration of Life on Monday, May 21 from 4-8 p.m. at the farm (1701 E 17 Road Aurora, NE 68818).  All that knew him are welcome to come for some food (we will have a food truck!) and drink, PUT ON A HAPPY FACE, and share your fondest memories of him.  


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