North Greenville College is often a family matter. In this case, two brothers, each on his own, found their way to the campus and went their separate ways to find their place in the world.
Leon Emery, class of 1954, grew up at the foot of Glassy Mountain. Leon became a high school dropout in the seventh grade. At the age of 23, already married to Jessie Plumley, he was drafted into the Army in 1942. Three years later, upon returning from the military, he and Jessie attended revival services at Victor Baptist Church. Each made a profession of faith and joined the Glassy Mountain Church.
In October of 1949 he committed his life to the ministry. He began to search for a school where he might continue his education. His pastor told him, “If you are going to be a Southern Baptist pastor, I would recommend a Baptist school.” In the fall of 1950, Leon enrolled at North Greenville Academy. After passing the (N.C.) State High School examination, he began his college studies. Dr. James A. Howard wrote him, “Leon, stay with your denomination.” He graduated from Mississippi College in 1956 and continued his studies at New Orleans Baptist Seminary.
After serving student pastorates in S.C. and Mississippi, Leon became Superintendent of Missions (1950) of Washington Association, and two years later of Bolivar Association, Mississippi, and also served as Dean of Mound Bayou (Negro) Seminary. In 1963 he was invited to become Associate Secretary, Cooperate Missions of The Mississippi Baptist Convention, Jackson. Following one year as Church Administration Consultant (1975-76) he came to his present position as Director of Church Administration-Pastoral Ministries Department. This was a new department of the Convention Board which came into being largely through Emery’s efforts and experience in the field. The State Convention now has more than 75 approved workers available to assist the department in the promotion of the program.
Leon and Jessie have two children, Sharon Hardin (Mrs. Michael) and Ronnie Emery and one grandchild. They live in Jackson, Mississippi.
“Most of the formal education I have was obtained after age 30. This great school [North Greenville] permitted me to begin anew in the educational process,” says Leon. “I have no doubt that North Greenville had the greatest influence in the direction of my work as far as the Southern Baptist Convention is concerned.”
Arnold E. Emery, class of 1958, is presently serving a five-year term as a trustee of his alma mater. He spent his early childhood at the foot of Glassy Mountain and has made his home for many years by the old home-place.
Also a high school dropout, he spent his boyhood on a farm and at an early age began working with his brother Albert in timber. Albert soon dropped out and Arnold began logging on his own.
Two events took place in 1950 that were to have a profound effect on his future. He received “greetings” from Uncle Sam and was drafted into the military for two years. It was while a Military Policeman overseas that he saw the need of education and determined to do something about it when he returned home.
The second event of the year and perhaps the most important was his marriage to Pauline Hughes who lived nearby. She has continued to be a genuine helpmate and a source of encouragement and support through the years. They established the Arnold and Pauline Emery Scholarship Fund at North Greenville in December 1982.
After his military days he returned to the lumber business. However, he did not forget his decision to continue his education. Perhaps it was logical that he took up his high school work at North Greenville since it was nearby. Upon taking the exam to qualify for college work, he began his college studies. After NGC, he attended night classes at Furman University.
The Arnold Emery Lumber Co., Inc., has expanded from logging to a sawmill, planer mill, and building supply business that deals in both wholesale and retail sales.
Flying has been his major hobby since 1968. He says he is now in his fourth plane, having advanced from the single engine to the twin engine type. In addition to flying in his business, he makes many flights as a member of the Shriner’s Flying Nobel Unit for humanitarian purposes, taking patients and sometimes doctors as far as Charleston, Cincinnati, and Houston. He is a Shriner and a member of the Hejaz Air Squadron and Cross Wind Pilot Association.
An active layman, he is a deacon and Chairman of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, where the Emerys have been members since 1965.
Printed in the Spring 1984 edition of the North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter