Emmett R. Gurney NORFOLK - Former Norfolk boxing champ loses last fight. Emmett Randolph Gurney, an outstanding Norfolk amateur boxer in the 1940s, lost a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease May 27, 2009, in N. Haledon, N.J. Gurney distinguished himself as a local, state and AAU champion and served in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of captain. He served at two overseas posts as well as Sumter, S.C. Air Force Base. Emmett's prowess in the ring got him a scholarship and a place on the boxing team at the University of South Carolina where he led the team in knockouts and decisions. He qualified for the U.S. Olympic tryouts and fought in the semifinal for a place on the U.S. team, but he was unsuccessful. After graduation, he turned professional and had six bouts, losing only once. Then, Emmett fulfilled an ROTC obligation to enter the Air Force. Stationed in England, he met his first wife, Diana, and brought her back with him to Norfolk, after he finished his enlistment, where they raised four children. Emmett was called back into the Air Force during the Cold War, and later, returned to Sumter, S.C., and became a math teacher, teaching in Sumter and Virginia Beach. He was known as a very kind teacher who his students enjoyed. "Dad was a very sweet man," according to his daughter, Gail Fontanella. His last years were spent in a nursing center in New Jersey close to two of his children. He is survived by his four children and their offspring, Deborah (Hal) Mondrow from Goodyear, Ariz., Gail (Tony) Fontanella and Mark Gurney, from Paramus, N.J., and Randolph Gurney from Pennsylvania. He is also survived by a brother, David (Shirley) from Winter Park, Fla., and a sister, Marilyn Romano from Jacksonville, Fla., and many nieces and nephews. Emmett was predeceased by two older siblings: a sister, Gloria Cartwright and a brother, Thomas Gurney. Emmett Gurney was born in Norfolk July 26, 1929. The funeral will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Granby Street, Norfolk, Saturday, Aug. 15, at 11 a.m. For information and directions, contact Hollomon-Brown Funeral Chapel, Main Office, (757) 583-0177.
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Published in The Virginian Pilot on Aug. 14, 2009