TIGERVILLE, S.C. (courtesy ngu.edu) — Dr. Arnold E. Emery, lifelong northern Greenville County resident, noted businessman, church leader, and philanthropist, passed away on December 10, 2021. He was 92.
NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., said Dr. Emery embodied the ideals of North Greenville with his lifelong dedication to being a transformational leader in the region.
“He was the prototypical student NGU has served, a local young man with loads of potential who was mentored and discipled on campus and became a successful businessman, churchman, and husband to the equally talented Pauline,” said President Fant. “His name is one of those that is fundamental to the university, as his service, prayers, and philanthropy have impacted Tigerville for six decades.”
Emery graduated from North Greenville Academy in 1958 and completed a Bachelor of Science in Business degree in 1996. NGU bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree on Emery that same year. He holds the distinction of having the most diplomas from the institution, including high school, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and an honorary doctorate. Pauline Emery was awarded an honorary doctorate by NGU in December 2017.
Emery was reared at the foot of Glassy Mountain, just north of NGU’s Tigerville campus. He dropped out of high school to work on a farm and with a brother in the timber business. That led to his logging operation. In 1950 he married Pauline Hughes. That same year, he entered into two years of military service. After serving as an MP overseas, he returned to South Carolina and founded Arnold Emery Lumber Company in Landrum. He guided that business to expand from logging to a sawmill, planer mill, and building supply business dealing in wholesale and retail sales.
Emery became a pilot in 1968 and owned multiple planes over the years. He was a Shriner and a member of the Hejaz Air Squadron and Cross Wind Pilot Association. In addition to flying for his business, he made many flights as a member of the Shriners’ Flying Nobel Unit for humanitarian purposes, taking patients and sometimes doctors as far as Charleston, Cincinnati, and Houston.
The Emerys have been active members of Southern Baptist churches throughout their 71 years of marriage. He served as a deacon and in various church leadership roles.
Emery was an NGU trustee for five terms, serving between 1983 and 2018, with multiple terms as board chair. He was instrumental in providing more than $100,000 in financial support to North Greenville in the 1980s. He increased that support more than five-fold in the 1990s as the university sought to stabilize financially.
In 1983, the Emerys established the Arnold E. and Pauline H. Emery Endowment at NGU “to make a college education available for worthy, needy students.” In 1986, they acquired land for the NGU football complex and donated the Avenue of Flags for the complex. In 2000, the Emerys provided leadership funds for building the Arnold and Pauline Emery Residence Hall. Additionally, they gave funds for the Arnold and Pauline Emery Game Room, which opened in 2006 in the university’s Tingle Student Life Center.
Earlier this year, Emery received South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, in recognition of his career of servant-leadership.
The honor was conferred by the action of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. The Order of the Palmetto is “presented in recognition of a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service, and contributions on a national or statewide scale.” Established in 1971, the once-in-a-lifetime award may only be presented to natives or residents of South Carolina.
Noting the presentation of the award, South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette commended Emery’s comprehensive service to the state: “Dr. Arnold Emery is a ‘good neighbor’ to all who know him in northern Greenville County. He has demonstrated selfless commitment to his family, community, church, Shriners, and North Greenville University. He has exemplified servant leadership and a generous spirit that has not only contributed to the well-being of the community of his birth but also to the prosperity of many grateful South Carolinians.”