At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
The Oliver Zane Emerson Nursing Scholarship Fund - Hope College
141 East 12th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Life Story / Obituary
Gene Emerson, age 90 of Holland, passed away February 27, 2022 at his home with family by his side.
Gene was born to Lester Eugene and Ruth Emerson in Canton, Ohio. He participated in football, track, and baseball while at Louisville high school and played football for Heidelberg University. He also was an avid fan of The Ohio State University as is his son Kirk and grandson Ryan E.
Following Gene's 2 years in the army, Gene married Barb Bodenbender. He managed Sheawassee River Farm, his father in law's 75-acre apple orchard and several milk cows farm in Byron, Ml. He prided himself by concocting "the best unpasteurized cider in the area", never revealing his recipe as it changed from one year to the next! In 1961 he moved with his wife and son Michael Paul to Port Huron, Mi and assumed the physical director position at the Port Huron YMCA. He was compared to Jack Lalaine when leading the women in bi-weekly exercises. 2 sons Kirk Robb and Derek Eugene were welcomed into his family during this time.
In 1972 he was hired by a group of businessmen from Holland, MI to form and manage a YMCA in their city. They were given the use of a gym facility formerly owned by the Holland Furnace Co. After a few years of operation, the committee decided they were trying to duplicate what Holland already had, a successful sports program in effect for young children thru adults and their YMCA hopes were dropped. During his time with the Holland YMCA Gene organized Little League football in the Holland Zeeland surrounding area. His only stipulation was no cheerleaders be allowed at the games!!! This didn't sit to well with some of the mothers!! This program is still in existence today.
Each time he would introduce Nancy to another friend, he would say she set the volleyball for him or they played racquetball with him or golfed with him. He knew more people in her hometown than she did!! He shot his one and only hole in one 7 years ago while golfing at Pinebrook/Ironwood golf course in Bradenton, FL. He enjoyed reading books on football and listening to music. On more than one occasion when traveling to visit grandparents in FL, a tape would be inserted into the tape player and his sons were forced to hear him singing with Mario Lanza, or Frankie Lane.
Gene remained in the area working as manager of Human Resources at Donnelly Mirrors and American Seating in Grand Rapids. He retired as sales manager for Teamwork of Holland in 1996.
In 1980 he divorced and married Nancy Maatman Ter Haar. Together they enjoyed traveling to visit three of their 5 children who at the time were living in Southern CA, South Carolina, and Hiram, Ohio. One vacation he particularly enjoyed was a surprise trip planned by Nancy to Boston. Thanks to a business acquaintance and John V, she managed to obtain tickets to 2 Boston Celtics games at the Boston Gardens. The first game Gene and Nancy were seated on the main floor 8 rows behind the basket and the 2nd on the first tier. He recognized and patted the back waist of Tommy Heinsohn the Celtics announcer at the time and was extremely excited. His favorite players at the time were Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale. During the same trip they visited Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower landing site and had Thanksgiving dinner with the Pilgrims. He is a direct descendant of William Bradford Brewster. Brewster's daughter Elizabeth married Gene's to be 8th great grandfather, Timothy Emerson the 1st. He also was a direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
About the time of his retirement in 1996, Kirk and family, Cindy and family moved back to Holland and Michael and family moved to Traverse City. This altered our travel plans during retirement but happily allowed us to attend the grandchildren's soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and swim events. Gene was a member of Christ Memorial Church in Holland. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather and will be missed by all that knew him.
Along with his parents, Gene was preceded in death by his daughter in-law, Karen Emerson, and grandsons, Oliver Zane Emerson, and Mark Emerson.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy (Maatman) Emerson; children, Michael (Linda) Emerson of Traverse City, MI, Kirk Emerson of Los Angeles, CA, Derek (Mary Ann Permesang) Emerson of Holland; step-children, Rick (Laura) Ter Haar of Zeeland, Cindy (John) Vogelzang of Holland; grandchildren, Dane (Chaia) Emerson of Traverse City and Mahajual, MX, Ryan (Sheyra) Emerson of Redondo Beach, CA, Lauren Emerson (Brad Miedema) of Mission Viejo, CA, Chris Emerson of Irvine, CA, Maria Emerson (Lee Villalpando) of Champagne, IL, Gray Emerson (Kim Jongsma) of Holland, Dov Emerson of Holland; step-grandchildren, Elise Ter Haar of Zeeland, Ryan (Audrey) Vogelzang of Hamilton, Christina (Joshua) Brewster of East Grand Rapids; 8 great-grandchildren; brother, Jim (Norma) Emerson of Eustis, FL; sister, Barb Gero of Palmer, MI, along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A visitation will take place on Saturday, March 5 from 10-12pm at Christ Memorial Church – Chapel (entrance D,E, or F), with a Memorial Service to follow at 12:00pm.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Gene's memory to his grandson's memorial fund at Hope College. The Oliver Zane Emerson Nursing Scholarship.