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In fond remembrance of a great guy: Lenny Emery

August 23, 2013

This afternoon I attended  the final “Retirement Tour” for Lenny Emery at the Waterville Valley Conference Center.  Lenny would have loved it.   The Speakeasy bar and restaurant were jam packed with his family and friends.  I could just picture Lenny in the middle of the throng, sitting at his piano – playing, singing, telling jokes.

Tom Corcoran, who is out of the country, sent me the following note and asked me to read it at Lenny’s memorial service; but, the place was so crowded and loud, I couldn’t be heard above the din.  So, I’d like to share Tom’s letter with you.

Lenny Emery

In Fond Remembrance of a Great Guy

By Tom Corcoran, Chairman/Founder Waterville Company, Inc.

I remember meeting Lenny for the first time when he showed up in Waterville Valley in the late 1960s. He was extremely bright, with a very quick mind and a way with words. He saw humor and irony all around him, and he hated pretense. He had a rapier wit and a ready smile that concealed almost total irreverence for just about everything, including all forms of authority, which often landed him in trouble.

He was a truly gifted piano player and a natural born leader, a pied piper magnetically attracting all the young people in the valley to his side.

He was also a pain in the neck and a not-so-good influence on the younger set.

One day I called him into my office and told him to go away and grow up, then come back. So he went away and grew up and came back. As I recall he wouldn’t admit that he had grown up, but he did. And I was delighted when he returned to the valley.

He was still irreverent, funny, opinionated and quick to express his opinion, usually on target, readily given in colorful language which was always humorous but with a needle.  A lot of us had missed his zest for life and welcomed his return.

I always enjoyed the many times I heard him play the piano at events in the conference center, including the two Alpine World Cup Finals and eight other Alpine World Cup events that we hosted in Waterville Valley.

He was a man with strong beliefs and emotions, and his two greatest loves, apart from his kids and Margaret, were for Waterville Valley, his home town, and for skiing on Mt. Tecumseh, where he was proud of how many days he skied each winter.

I visited Lenny and Margaret this past July and saw him for the last time. His mind was as sharp as ever. We talked for a half-hour or longer about the old days, and he did most of the talking and remembering. His vivid recollection of people and events was far better than mine, and his storytelling opened up pockets in my memory that had been zipped shut.

He was facing death stoically and seemingly without fear.  But maybe that was a show for me. Near the end of my visit he recited from memory one of his poems. I think it was “A Skier’s Prayer”, included in his wonderful little book of poems. I said my good byes as best I could, gave hugs to Lenny and Margaret, got in my car and couldn’t stop crying.

He was a really good guy with a heart as big as the sun. I’ll recall him with great fondness to the end of my days, and I expect other Watervillians who knew him will do likewise.

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

One thought on “In fond remembrance of a great guy: Lenny Emery

  • Roberta Bell says:

    I found about Lenny passing over last week. I dissolved on the spot…privately.. mind you, but none the less. It had that affect on me. I worked with Lenny at the White Mountain Hotel for ten years, and our friendship continued after that. He was quite the gent! With an ego as long as New Hampshire, but that was just fine. It was important he had that. He was a single impressive dad and a true talent and had the right!! I wrote this letter to Lenny & don’t know if he recv’d it or had the opportunity to read it. I’d like to post it. Lenny said to me on the phone… I’ll be around Bobbi don’t you doubt it. So as he visits his family & we others here on Mother Earth I’d like to post it now so he can read it.

    Dear Lenny… I’ve wanted to put pen to paper for the past 2 weeks since we last spoke. An now, finally here I is…! Lenny, my good man…my good friend and even though you’d care not to have sappy shit conveyed to you, I need you to know from the deepest part of my heart and soul how happy I am that you’re a kindred part of my world, universe, all of it. WTF was my reaction with a heavy sigh and how unfair this is. I know you don’t want that kind of effect to be taken by family and chums. And.. I’m honored, honored to be a good, good friend. I’ve got the radio on … they’re playing Todd Rundgren… things we’ve experienced, eh?? I do, I do understand and I know you’ll continue chatting it up with me so what the hell am I concerned about?? My personal note to you is I’m sad..sad, you’re going through this affliction. These life burdens after everything you’ve contributed to the world around you!!! You’ve always been an active participant in life!! And yes, you’re right… it’s only flesh, just flesh… the energy, the lessons, the love, lives… it’s important to know how much you’ve given to the MANY people you shared this life with. Conversations..! whether politics, raising children (which I know you’re dam proud of; quite the impressive pair those two!) the theater, the arts, you always kept people around you PROACTIVE.. to ponder…consider…become a part of…oh, geez..the list goes on. Thank you, thank you so very much! And… thank you for the great times we had with the kids… now impressive adults that we can feel good about as they make their way. Santa’s Village!!! DID NOT they have a bomb of a time!! Indiana Jones…they’d sit and watch every one of those movies laughing, frozen with suspense, rough housing, enjoying it all!! It was a very special time with raising our guys. Thank you for the yucks that we had at the Hotel. We always found ways to enjoy the workplace; good energies abound, and meant to be having the workmates we had.. and THE MUSIC!!! THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC Lenny. An expose’ of your amazing talent and your amazing voice and songs especially “My Cat” are etched SECURELY in ‘me feeble brain’. Please stay in touch and know you’re thought of often! Always with much love to you and yours Mr. Lenny! …, Bobbi, Mathew, Jacqui Bell

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