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In Memoriam: Ron Emery

Ron EmeryORISKANY, NY--- Well known music and arts reviewer, educator, TV personality, and theater director, Ronald Emery, formerly of Nelson Ave. in Saratoga Springs, died June 28, 2011, at the Eastern Star Nursing Home in Oriskany, NY, after a long illness. He was 77 and had been a resident of the Eastern Star Home for several years.

A native of Saratoga Springs, Emery was the son of Dwight and Elsa (Brown) Emery.

An outstanding student, Emery was valedictorian of the Class of 1952 and American Field Service Scholar to France in 1951. He was a 1956 graduate of Williams College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, majoring in Music with a minor in English.

A long career in education began in 1956 when Emery traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to serve as an instructor in English at Robert College. Established in 1863, Robert College was the first American college outside the United States and is now known as Bo?aziçi University. While in Istanbul, Emery also began a long career in the arts when he became director and president of the Hisar Players, a mainly English language theater group composed of members of Istanbul’s large foreign community. Emery became a well-known figure in Istanbul’s expatriate community, which included many writers at the time, including James Baldwin, who Emery came to know. Emery became fluent and certified in Turkish and once directed a production of Hamlet in Turkish.

In 1959 Emery returned to the United States to become Chairman of the English Department and Director of Drama for the Darrow School, a private prep school in New Lebanon, NY. Located on the site of one the former New Lebanon Shaker Villages, Emery became the Darrow School’s unofficial Shaker historian, having gotten to know some of the Shakers who turned the village over to the school. He also co-directed a Shaker Studies program with Elmira College. While at Darrow, Emery directed several theater productions a year and also founded an adjunct dance program.

In 1977 Emery left the Darrow School and traveled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he worked for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as supervisor and instructor in English language for Royal Saudi Air Force officers being trained as fighter pilots. Since only princes who were members of the large Saudi royal family were allowed to become fighter pilots, Emery got to know members of the Saudi royal family, and often was a guest at various royal palaces and events. While in Jeddah he continued his interest in theater by becoming director of the Jeddah Players and the Saudi Equity Theatre, which put on productions in English, mainly for the foreign community, and contributed an arts column to the Arab News newspaper.

After two years he returned to the United States where he became Director of the Little Theater and Assistant Professor of English at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY.

In 1983 Emery returned to Saratoga Springs after the death of his father, and became music, opera, ballet, theater and arts reviewer and feature writer for the Saratogian newspaper, covering the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and its resident companies, and a large number of other area performing arts groups, like the Lake George Opera and the Luzerne Music Festival. This began a long association with the area’s newspapers and the area’s arts community. Emery subsequently moved to the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, and then to the Albany Times Union. He also wrote reviews for the Troy Record and theBerkshire Eagle.

Due to the authoritative and highly knowledgeable quality of his reviews, Emery quickly acquired the reputation as the region’s leading arts reviewer. In 1987 Our Town Television in Saratoga Springs created a television program, About The Arts, starring Emery as he interviewed and featured local and visiting artists and arts groups. The first program, which ran on June 17, 1987, featured opera singer Beverly Sills, Director of the New York City Opera. Sills was the first of many prestigious guests Emery featured on his program. Actress Michael Learned and jazz legend Dave Brubeck also appeared during the program’s first season. About the Arts ran for several years on Sunday Mornings on WNYT-TV 13.

Emery was also a trustee of the Saratoga County Arts Council, one of the Founding Trustees of Home Made Theater, and a Founding Trustee of the Heidi Knecht Dance Company, and was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Saratoga Arts Council.

In addition to his parents, Emery was predeceased by an aunt and uncle.

He is survived by his many friends, classmates, and students.

At his request, there will be no calling hours or funeral.

A graveside ceremony will take place Friday, July 8, at 11 a.m. at Greenridge Cemetery, 17 Greenridge Place, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, with Carol Shneider officiating.

Many thanks go to the staff of the Eastern Star Nursing Home for their fond care of both Ronald and his mother Elsa Emery, who was also found a final residence at the Eastern Star Nursing Home.

Expressions of sympathy may take the form of a donation, in loving memory of Emery, to Saratoga County Arts Council, 320 Broadway, Saratoga, NY 12866, or to Homemade Theatre, P.O. Box 1182 Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Condolences may be mailed to Maynard D. Baker Funeral Home, 11 Lafayette St., Queensbury, NY 12804, or e-mailed through www.bakerfuneralhome.com.

To view Remembering Ron Emery, by Ned Groth, click here.

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