PEORIA - Dale Ems, of Fountain Hills, Ariz., formerly of Peoria, died on Saturday, April 20, 2013, at his home.
He was born in 1931 to Laura (Shepperd) Ems and Henry Edward Ems in Fort Madison, Iowa.
He worked construction before joining the Army at age 18.
He was a paratrooper in the airborne division during the Korean War. He received an honorable discharge in 1951, having earned a parachutist badge, National Defense Service medal and a Good Conduct medal.
He returned to Peoria and attended Bradley University, where he broke records running track, played football and ultimately earned a master's degree in education and a place in the hall of fame. During his time on the Bradley track team, he was known as the fastest man on the team, while his dear friend, Jerry, was known as the strongest man on the team.
Dale also competed in National Intercollegiate Three Cushion Billiards and Bridge. He place second in the nation in both events.
Dale played football for the Philadelphia Eagles, earning a place as outstanding rookie. An injury cut his time with the Eagles short. He worked hard to rehab and then played football for the Toronto Argonauts until he began his career as a teacher and coach.
He retired at age 55 and moved to Fountain Hills, Ariz. He loved living in Arizona and especially enjoyed the wide variety of wildlife that could be observed from his patio. As those who knew him know, he may have retired, but he never gave up coaching. He rarely missed an opportunity to either teach or learn more about golf, tennis and bridge. Just a few months ago, despite his battle with cancer, he was teaching a caregiver how to play golf.
Dale's enthusiasm for fitness lasted his entire life. He enjoyed many years of tennis and golf. He was swimming up to 40 laps most days in the pool and getting 18 holes of golf in whenever he could until age 80.
Dale is survived by his wife, Joan "Tommie" Ems (Tomkinson); his daughter, Kathryn Dale Keane, her husband, Pat, and grandson Patrick Dale Keane; his son, David Michael Ems, his wife, Suzanne, and grandsons David Austin and Michael Justin Ems; sisters Patsy Reed, Loretta Bigger and her husband, Robert Bigger, and Helen Lithgow.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Ems.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, April 28, 2013, at 2 p.m. at Shepard of the Hills Lutheran Church at the corner of El Lago and Fountain Hills Boulevard in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Memorials may be made to The First Tee, promoting positive youth development through the game of golf, online at www.thefirsttee.org or by calling (904) 940-4300.