Gerald (Gary) Martin Emery, 77, of East Peoria, IL, passed away on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, at the OSF Richard Owens Hospice Home in Peoria, IL. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at University United Methodist Church, with Pastor Ethan Carnes officiating. Visitation will be held Monday, April 24, 2023, from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm at Mason Funeral Home Germantown Hills Chapel and one hour prior to the service on Tuesday. A graveside ceremony will be held at Swan Lake Memory Gardens, with military rites accorded.
Born February 7, 1946, in Peoria, IL, Gary grew up in Laura, IL, the youngest of four children born to Clarence and Ethel (Carter) Emery. In young adulthood, he married Linda Chavez in California, and they had two sons, Norman and Kevin. Later, Gary met the love of his life, Patricia Ann Kendall, and they were married on October 4, 1974, in Laura, IL. They made their home with the boys in East Peoria, Illinois, and were active members of their community and the University United Methodist Church in Peoria. This past fall, they celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary with family and friends.
Gary was a U.S. Marine Veteran and served as a radio repairman during the Vietnam War. He achieved the rank of sergeant and was awarded medals for Combat Action, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Marine Corps. Good Conduct Award, National Defense, Vietnam Service with Bronze Star, and the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) Campaign. While he didn't talk much about his military experiences, Gary was a proud Marine and always honored his fellow servicemen and women. A highlight of Gary's military career was the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. Upon his return, he received a hero's welcome home in Peoria.
In his post-military career, Gary worked at Caterpillar Tractor Company for 45 years, primarily in Building KK. He was fond of saying that he went to work, but he didn't really work. He was often found making his daily rounds visiting throughout the building. Everyone seemed to know Gary. When it came to networking, he was ahead of his time.
In retirement, Gary continued a variety of hobbies. He was a proud member of the German American Club, where he made many good friends. He was affiliated with Harmonie Concordia and Sport Verein. As a part of the Sport Verein, he participated in archery and airgun (Schuetzen), rifle, pistol, and half-support. Additional pastimes included traveling in the States and abroad, ballroom dancing, bowling, golfing, building with Legos, coloring, solving word puzzles, putting together jigsaw puzzles, and creating origami. His toy collection included farm toys, Nascar models and memorabilia, scale models of Cat machinery, Code 3 fire engines, model airplanes, red Ferrari models, and his first love N Scale Model Railroading.
Gary is survived by his beloved wife, Patrica of East Peoria; son Kevin and daughter-in-law JoAnn Emery of Metamora and their children Jonathan (Brittney), Elizabeth, and Miranda; daughter-in-law Rachel Emery of Clinton and her children, Hannah, Michaela (Devane), Jason (McKenna), Sarah, Levi, and Naomi. Also surviving are many beloved nephews, nieces, and great-grandchildren (born and soon-to-be-born). He delighted in being a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Each and every one brought him tremendous pride and joy. Gary was preceded in death by his parents, brother Richard Emery; sisters Marge Beall and Marilyn Sullivan; and his son, Norman Emery in 2020.
With a twinkle in his eye, Gary was always ready to brighten the room with a joke, a story, or gentle teasing. Children and adults alike found themselves grinning in his playful company. During his three-and-a-half-year battle with cancer, he never let a doctor or nurse leave without a "dad joke." His hospital room was frequently filled with lightness and laughter. Humor was the "soul medicine" Gary used to spread joy to everyone he met.
The family would like to sincerely thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at Illinois Cancer Care and the Richard Owens Hospice Home for their time, talents, and compassionate care for Gary during every step of his journey.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorials be given to Illinois Cancer Care, 8940 North Wood Sage Road, Peoria, IL 61615, or to St. Jude Children's Hospital, 530 NE Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria, IL 61637. Online condolences at www.masonfuneralhomes.com.
To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.
Illinois Cancer Care
8940 North Wood Sage Road, Peoria IL 61615
St. Jude Children's Hospital
530 NE Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria IL 61637