Heart of gold: Jud Emery remembered for work with disabled youth
A family man, Little League coach, and respected community member, Judson Emery Jr. died earlier this month after complications from a car accident he suffered in 2011.
To those who knew him personally, “Jud” had a strong but kind-hearted personality and deeply cared for his friends and family.
“He had a biker persona with a kind and gentle soul. He was just this really sweet person, and really into … trying to help others and being there for his friends,” his wife, Tana Emery, said. “He would do anything for anybody.”
The car accident — which occurred when Jud’s vehicle hit a tree after he swerved to avoid a deer — left him with injuries severe enough that he was placed in a coma and held at the hospital for a month.
“He had the accident almost three years ago,” said his sister, Cindy Maple. “His injuries were critical and included broken ribs that punctured a lung. By puncturing the lung, a type of rare ‘fungus’ called astrogliosis was released. It’s very rare and can be dormant for quite a long time with no problems. At that time, the doctors said that he would be prone to pneumonia for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, over the last year he was in the hospital multiple times for pneumonia. This last time, it got into his blood stream and he contracted sepsis.”
One of Jud’s passions, his family said, was coaching his son and others in the Nevada County Little League Challenger Division, which focuses on giving disabled youth the chance to play baseball and is run by the Nevada County Association for Developmentally Disabled.
“(Coaching) was his life. When he got sick and wasn’t able to put out what he had put out before, it was really difficult for him,” Tana Emery said. “He lived to coach the baseball and he had just started getting in to (Abilities Basketball), which was really enjoyable because (he wasn’t) outside in the dirt, so he was able to do that. I think he thought, ‘OK, good, I finally found a sport where I can get into it.’ Everybody was really important to him, so he wanted to give each and every one of them his all, and everybody felt that. They knew that if they went up to bat and they were having difficulties, Coach Jud was right there.
“When he came back from the accident and he was able to get back to coaching again, all the kids were like, ‘Coach Jud! Coach Jud!’ Our son was extremely proud of him; it was an ‘Everybody loves my dad’ kind of thing.”
Perhaps Jud’s finest quality was the importance he placed in family. It’s what initially attracted her, Tana Emery said.
“That was really important to me, because I come from a really big family and family is really important to me,” she said.
His siblings were also very appreciative of his love for family.
“He truly loved being with his family and keeping family traditions alive,” Maple said. “When our lives got chaotic, he was right there saying, ‘We’re a family, we have to spend time together,’ and he would make sure we did. I will never forget that.”
“Growing up … we were the only two boys. He was not only a brother, but a father figure in a way. I remember being a little kid, and watching him get things done. He was the man’s man,” said Josh Paul, who gives his older brother credit for showing him the ropes from brushing his teeth to how best to speak to women. “I just think that this world is definitely losing a person who was important. Another heart of gold was lost.”
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations towards a Special Needs Trust Fund set up for Jud Emery’s son at Bank of the West. A celebration of his life will be held outside at Utah’s Place Community Shelter at 10:30 a.m. on July 27.
Spencer Kellar is an intern with The Union. He can be reached at NCPCInternC@theunion.com.
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