William “Bill” M. Emery

Home|William “Bill” M. Emery

April 16, 1929 – December 23, 2017

Bill Emery affected the lives of many in a very positive way during his life in Sheridan where he died at Sheridan Manor on December 23, 2017.  He was born in Sheridan on April 16, 1929, to William and Evelyn (Lovell) Emery and lived here most of his life. No family or descendants survived him but he had many close friends to regret his passing.  A memorial service will be held at the HUB (formerly the Sheridan Senior Center at 3:00 PM on February 8, 2018. Bill graduated from Sheridan High School with the class of 1947.  He served on the Bronc, Quill and Scroll and Ock staffs and was a member of the Honor Society and Art Club. While a young man he went to work part time in the record department at Mossholders Furniture, thus beginning a career of over 60 years in the record business.  He graduated from Sheridan College in its first graduating class in 1949. In 1951 he spent two years in Los Angeles working in a rare records music store and gaining experience and valuable contacts that would follow him throughout his career. Through his many years in the business, his knowledge became extensive. After his return to Sheridan he would again work for Mossholders and also run the Totmans record department. He then establish his own company, Music Unlimited, in partnership with his friend, Mike Ingersoll, which they operated from 1979 to 1983. Bill then joined Ross Campbell at Centennial Records and Tapes, which became Radio Shack, where he would work until he retired. Though Bill Emery has not driven a car since 1964, he was sparked with an interest in cars, partly from watching his father, a mechanic, who had a garage in Sheridan for years.  It is generally known that Bill was a contributor to the Book of the Month Club book The Complete Encyclopedia of Motor Cars published in 1968, but few knew how much he was involved. His interest and involvement started back when he was a boy and heard of a book The World’s Automobiles.  He wrote the author, and ended up traveling to England in 1959 to actually meet with him and helped him bring it up to date.  Emery contributed the chapters on Chinese, Russian, Polish, South American and post war United States cars to the Encyclopedia. By then that included over 4,100 types of cars. When working for Totmans in 1949, Bill tells of a very busy Saturday in the record store, when a customer in the basement asked him if he sold many copies of a 78 rpm recording of Gershwin’s Concerto in F which was on a shelf.  Bill said no, as most people here were more interested in western music.  The man placed it on a recorder to play and then sat down at a piano beside it and played along with it.  Apparently, the combination was pretty noisy and Bill was asked to suggest that the man quit playing.  Bill remembed saying, “Sir, would you mind not playing.  I am sorry but it is making too much noise for the customers.” The customer was gracious and shopped a little and left.  Bill discovered later that the man was the great conductor, Leonard Bernstein.  His host told Bill later that Bernstein thought it was hilarious; he’d said, “Most people ask me to play the piano. This is the first time I’ve ever been asked to stop.”  And Bernstein later signed a recording for Bill. Somewhat after, Bill would become a friend of another well known conductor, Tony D’Almeida who owned an interest in the Folly Ranch in the Bighorns and gave Bill a place there to stay when he could come out.  In recent years Bill became a friend of national celebrity and entertainer, Michael Feinstein, who has taken it upon himself to bring back a lot of the old popular songs and jazz music.  Bill has provided old recordings from his collection for the museum which Feinstein is presently working on to preserve some of the past greats. Bill would become interested too in theater and helped to establish the Civic Theater Guild. He even acted in several early plays and provided sound for the productions. Another project of his was to record the voice, piano, and many compositions of Dr. Pete Schunk and also of Marvin Fritz playing the piano and organ. During the 1950s he hosted a Saturday night radio show sponsored by Mossholders over KWYO, and for some years he did graphic, sketches (some comic) and maps for The Sheridan Press. In the mid-1960s, a friend at the radio station, Ed Freeman, had occasion to hear a young Sheridan singer, Cris Williamson, and told Bill he would have to hear her sing.  When Bill did, he was amazed at her professionalism, both singing and composing, and determined to help her get a start in the recording business.  Bill enlisted the support of Ed Freeman and John McWilliams and in 1964 they established Avanti records, producing Cris’s first three albums at the KWYO radio station studio.  A number of personal performances with the support of Lionel McEwan at the Maverick Supper Club introduced her to the Sheridan public. Cris would go on to develop her own recording company and produce dozens of records through the years.  Only a few days before Bill died, Dr. Sy Thickman brought her back to present a concert here in Sheridan at the WYO Theater and she and Bill had the opportunity to visit. In 1972, Bill and his friend Mike Ingersoll, helped produce Kaycee rancher and top bareback riding champion Chris LeDoux’s first album. Bill remembers that Pat Hamilton, the rodeo coach at Sheridan College called to say she had a rodeo student who was writing songs. “I think you should record him” she said. This was arranged, and Chris came over with his band, the “Hole in the Wall Gang.”  The group recorded all day and recorded most of the album in one session. Bill continued on over a number of years helping LeDoux get his start as a top notch western singer, often performing with another famous singer, Garth Brooks. Bill generously has donated considerable time and materials to THE Wyoming Room at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library and has been generous with gifting also to Sheridan College and to the Sheridan County Museum among others. Past Wyoming Room Director, Helen Graham, recorded hours of interviews with Bill.  Today former Wyoming Room Director, Judy Slack, is caretaker of Bill’s personal collections, and is working with Mike Ingersoll and Bill’s friend and estate trustee, Jim Arnieri, to help with arrangements. Memorial donations in Bill’s memory may be sent to The Hub, 211 Smith Street, Sheridan WY 82801 or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

By |February 1st, 2018|

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