By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
FONDA — It was sad day in Fonda on Saturday as family, friends, and colleagues said good-bye to a man they cherished and looked up to.
Saturday afternoon, funeral services were held for the late Ronald “Rush” Emery, retired Montgomery County Sheriff of 23 years, who passed away last week after a long illness.
Dozens of people gathered at the Fonda Reformed Church to remember Emery.
Standing outside the church before funeral services began was Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery Smith.
“Sheriff Emery hired me in 1988 and I worked with him until he retired in ‘97, and he was just a great stand-up guy,” Smith said. “He was a guy who worked very hard for the people of the county and the people of his agency.
“He did everything he could to make sure things were handled properly, and I’ve never seen anyone as dedicated, as devoted to his family, to the members of his agency, and the county.”
Smith said he was a visible sheriff, always out on the front lines with the men and women of his department.
“I could tell you a million stories,” Smith said. “It’s a great loss to the law enforcement community and to the people of the community losing Sheriff Emery, no question.”
Emery’s niece and nephew Courtney and Russell Ford, along with great nephew Mitchell Ford, shared snippets of Emery’s memory before proceeding in for the service.
“He was always kind,” Courtney said. “It’s a great loss.”
“Uncle Rush, he demanded the respect, he got the respect,” Russell said. “He was a great guy.”
Mitchell said Emery would always show him his awards and collections whenever he was with him.
“It was just really cool,” he said.
Friends and family sang America the Beautiful through tear-filled eyes as the procession began into the church and after a short prayer, three individuals close to Emery took the podium to remember who he was as a father, a colleague, and a friend.
Emery’s daughter, Jill, stood first and read a passage from General Douglas MacArthur to those in attendance that she said was fitting to remember her father.
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid,” she read. “One who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.”
The passage spoke about building a man whose heart will be clean, whose goals high, who will learn to laugh, but not forget how to weep.
“Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength,” she continued.
As Jill sat down, former Undersheriff Robert Arthurs took the podium to share his stories of Emery’s humility and graciousness towards those around him.
“He personified every aspect of the ideal person in his position,” Arthurs said.
Every person who met the sheriff had a deep respect for him, Arthurs recalled, and he grew close working with him throughout the years.
“Rush and I enjoyed a very unique relationship,” he said through tear-filled eyes, continuing on to tell stories of Emery’s care for others, including himself.
The last time he saw Emery was about a year ago, Arthurs said.
“He said something he never said to me before and that was, ‘Thanks for being you.’ I wonder if he felt that that would be the last time we would see each other,” Arthurs said. “So to say my last good-bye to my friend, I say, right back at you, Rush. Thanks for being you.”
It was an emotional end to Arthurs special tribute.
And the memories of Emery continued as son-in-law Charles March took the podium to share more about Emery’s life, his time spent in the U.S. Navy, his involvement in Fort Ticonderoga reenactments, his arrowhead collection, and his love of French fries with the grandchildren.
“Honor, integrity, caring, commitment, service, and patriotism guided his life,” March said. “He gave these principals freely to those fortunate enough to have known him.”
Music, prayers, and memories continued throughout the ceremony.
As the service concluded, two representatives of the U.S. Navy Color Guard approached the alter, folded the American Flag placed above Emery’s casket, and handed the folded flag to Emery’s wife, Sally, as those in the church watched in silence.
The service concluded with the song ‘Eternal Father,’ The Navy Hymn, and as those in attendance left the church, the were given packets of photos, memories, and words about Emery.
To conclude the service of remembrance, a handful of law enforcement vehicles, their lights flashing, drove silently ahead in front of the funeral vehicle procession, leading Emery’s vehicle underneath a large American Flag on Route 5S suspended above the road by two fire engines.
Alongside them stood law and fire personnel saluting his honor as he drove by the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, named in his honor.