ELON - Emery Keith Gilliam, 87, passed away peacefully April 12, 2014, at his life-long home, in the room where he was born.
A celebration of his life will be held at Shiloh United Methodist Church, 4718 Hwy. 87 North, Gibsonville, on Wednesday, April 16, at 3 p.m., with the Rev. Hyung S. Kim and the Rev. Bobby R. Bonds officiating. A Service of Committal will follow in the church cemetery.
A native of Alamance County, Emery was born March 13, 1927, the youngest son of the late James Sylvester and Lily Blanche Kernodle Gilliam. He was married Nov. 27, 1948, to the late Doris Clapp Gilliam.
Emery graduated from Elon College in 1948 with a degree in Business Administration and then began a long career with Burlington Industries in Burlington, N.C. Beginning with cost accounting followed by corporate training in industrial engineering, Emery became the Group Industrial Engineer for Burlington House Fabrics. He was an officer of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers.
After working all day, Emery traded his office for his tractor to farm soybeans, corn and wheat. He retired from Burlington Industries in 1987 after 39 years of service but continued his love of farming until his 80's.
Emery was raised in the Gilliam's Primitive Baptist congregation, and, until recent months, was Chairman of the Gilliam's Cemetery, serving over 50 years.
After marriage, he and Doris joined Shiloh United Methodist Church, where he was treasurer for 28 years, an active member of the Methodist Men and the choir, and a volunteer remodeler and gardener.
As a charter member of Altamahaw-Ossipee Civitan Club, Emery witnessed the growth of this civic organization as it became one of the most successful clubs in the state. He served as President of the local club, held two terms as Lieutenant Governor for the Civitan East Region, and maintained 64 years of perfect attendance.
In recent years Emery enjoyed providing Gator rides to autistic children at the twice-annual club benefit 'Fun on the Farm' – events that he proudly shared had won International Civitan Service awards.
Emery served as President of the Altamahaw-Ossipee Community Association that serves families in need in the immediate community. He served as Chairman of the building committee and volunteered as the building contractor that built the A-O Community Center and Fire Department in 1962 and filled the on-going role of Treasurer for 50 years. On behalf of the Community Association, Emery shopped and delivered groceries and covered heating bills and essentials for those in need.
Emery enjoyed researching family history which led to his membership in the Sons of the American Revolution, through which he served as Color Guard for re-enactments and ceremonies for many years. He also made many presentations to civic groups about Gilliam's Academy, which was founded in 1879 in Alamance County by his grandfather. Through his wife, Doris, Emery was a dedicated member of the Clapp Family Association team that restored the Old Brick Church in Guilford County.
Emery was devoted to education and served as chairman of the A-O PTA, as well as other offices, spanning a 25-year period. As active alumni of Elon University, Emery and Doris often enjoyed numerous events with friends and faculty, and established an endowed scholarship fund for the School of Education. They met at Elon in 1944 and held their 50th wedding anniversary party there in 1998.
Emery enjoyed wood working, refinishing furniture and browsing estate sales. He and Doris were members of the Greensboro Fiesta Dance Club for 40 years where he was known for his fancy foxtrot. Doris and Emery also enjoyed over 50 years of camping and waterskiing with their girls, extended family and many friends, and he continued to slalom until he was 65. They also enjoyed many years of travel following retirement.
Survivors include his three devoted daughters, ""The Gilliam Girls"", Janice Newsom and husband David of Greensboro, Leigh Ann Poland and husband Jack of Fredericksburg, Va. and Donna Camp and husband Mitch of Greensboro; seven grandchildren, Stephanie Newsom Cole (Kevin), Matthew Newsom (Lydia), Kristen and Ryan Poland, and Caroline, Hunter and Catherine Camp; and great-grandsons, Gavin and Ethan Cole.
He will be remembered for his pursuit of excellence, education, service, good humor and, above all, devotion to church and family.
In addition to his parents and loving wife, he was preceded in death by his brother, Dr. James Sylvester Gilliam II of High Point; his sister, VeLora Dean Gilliam Scott of Apex; and his infant brother; Bernard. Emery cared for his mother in his home for 35 years.
Public visitation, where the family will receive friends, will begin at 5:30 and continue until 8 p.m. Tues, April 15th, at Lowe Funeral Home, 2205 S. Church Street, Burlington, NC 27215.
Memorial contributions may be made to Shiloh UMC, 4718 NC 87 North, Gibsonville, NC 27249 or to the Doris Clapp and Emery Gilliam Education Scholarship, P.O. Box 2600, Elon University, Elon, NC 27244.
Online condolences may be made at www.lowefuneralhome.com.