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Emery Keith Hale

Emery Keith Hale was born August 30, 1928 in Cabool, Missouri, to Wesley and Telia (Hunter) Hale. He passed away on Wednesday, November 12, 2008, at age 80.

Emery suffered with emphysema for several years and the last year he also battled cancer. In the last weeks of his life, his niece, Mary Lynn Sweet Babb, took care in making sure that he was comfortable and at ease. His family and friends find peace that he suffers no longer and that he has gone to play his golden fiddle on the streets of gold in heaven.

Emery dedicated his life to the Lord and was baptized at First Baptist Church in Cabool on October 5, 1963.

He was preceded in death by his parents; five brothers, Virgil, Earl, Falus, Amos and Clovis; and three sisters, Myrtle Adams, Helen McEllen and Mildred Tabaka.

Emery was united in marriage to Geraldine Dotson, whom he affectionately called “Dude,” on July 1, 1950. To this union of 58 years, three children were born, Kim, Janey and J.T.

Emery was an attentive husband and father. His children always knew that they could count on him for a hug, a smile, a shoulder to cry on, and a good laugh.

He attended Cabool School, completing through ninth grade in 1947. He went to work for Crawford Plumbing Shop that same year. On December 7, 1948, he joined the U.S. Army and attended basic training in Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, for eight weeks. This training was followed by a seven-day furlough. He then reported to Fort Benning, Georgia. He was discharged December 15, 1949 and joined the Army Reserves. On October 6, 1950 he was called back to active duty and was shipped by train to McCord Field in Tacoma, Washington. After intense training he went aboard the USS General Anderson to Poo Sam, Korea. He served as a cook, moving with his unit.

Emery had a soft spot for the Korean children refugees and would sneak food to them. Those refugee children, all named Kim, affectionately referred to him as “Hale’s Dining House.” He returned from Korea on November 23, 1951 and went back to work for Crawford Plumbing.

Using the G.I. Bill, he decided to go to barber school in St. Louis at the cost of $300. Having little cash, he borrowed $120 from Todd Forsyth and lived with his sister, Mildred, and her husband, Paul, in St. Louis. He carried the cash that he borrowed in his shoe, and upon completion of barber school he returned the same $120 to Mr. Forsyth.

On February 5, 1955 he began his career as a barber with John Holder at his shop on Ozark Avenue in Cabool. For the next 20 years he cut the hair of countless men and boys and told a countless number of jokes. The barber shop was a gathering place for many over the years. He often would flip a coin for a haircut, and rumor has it he gave a lot of free haircuts.

It was during this time that he became acquainted with John Holder’s family. While he was fond of all of them, Sherryl Kay, John’s granddaughter, remained close to his heart until he left this world. He considered her one of his daughters.

Eventually John retired and Emery bought the business. On February 5, 1975 Emery sold the business to Norman Sigman and began a 22-year career with Cabool Schools as a bus driver and custodian. He hauled many children to school and built relationships with each of them. He drove the bus on numerous school trips, always making sure that if they stopped to eat somewhere, every child would have enough money to eat. He always seemed to know when a child was in need. Emery had grown up with very little in his childhood and whether it was football cleats, letter jackets, class rings, clothes, coats or food, he did everything in his power to make sure no child at Cabool Schools ever did without. He retired from the school system in 1998.

Emery had two major passions, Bulldog football and playing his fiddle. He was a loyal Bulldog fan with a wide knowledge of Bulldog football players and coaches from the past and present. Although he never learned to read music, he played his fiddle “by ear.” He could hear any fiddle tune one time and then play it.

Bluegrass music was a constant part of Emery’s life. In 1970 he and Dude began traveling across the county to enjoy bluegrass festivals. Emery and Dude spent many an evening celebrating an impromptu jam session with friends. They enjoyed many years of traveling in their fifth wheel. In 1999 they made their first trip to Mission, Texas, They spent eight winters in Mission where they made a host of memories and new friends.

Emery retired from the Army Reserves and was a lifetime member of VFW Post 473, the Jaycees and the Lions Club. His hobbies included collecting coins, Dazey churns and pocket knives. He enjoyed trading, swapping and getting a good deal at the flea market.

Emery was a dedicated family man and was incredibly proud of his family. He is survived by his wife, Dude; three children, Kim Hale of Cabool, Janey and Stan Hoffman of Cabool, and J.T. and Jeanette Hale of Mtn. Grove, Missouri; eight grandchildren, Jennifer, Dawndy, Kodi, Jeremy, Jami, Trevor, Nicole and Curtis; and seven great-grandchildren, Kailyn, Chayton, Riley, Cole, Mekenna, Emmarie (named lovingly after her “Pop”) and Dawson.

Emery was a kind and generous man and will be greatly missed by his family and friends. He was a loving and supportive husband, father, grandpa, uncle and friend.

His funeral was held Monday, November 17, 2008, at 10:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Cabool. The service was officiated by Reggie Kelly under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home. Interment was in Cabool Cemetery with military honors.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Cabool Bulldog football team.

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