Emery honored with Order of the Palmetto
Posted on: September 16, 2021
Tigerville, SC (September 16, 2021) Lifelong northern Greenville County resident Arnold E. Emery received South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, on September 3. The noted businessman, church leader and philanthropist was nominated for the recognition by North Greenville University President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., in recognition of his career of servant-leadership.
The honor was conferred by action of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. The Order of the Palmetto is “presented in recognition of a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service and contributions on a national or statewide scale.” Established in 1971, the once-in-a-lifetime award may only be presented to natives or residents of South Carolina.
“As one who benefits daily from the visionary work of Dr. Arnold E. Emery, it was my privilege to nominate this outstanding South Carolina business and education leader for the Order of the Palmetto,” Dr. Fant said. “Dr. Emery has lived a life of service that has bolstered his community, our great state, and our nation.”
South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette commended Emery’s broad service to the state: “Dr. Arnold Emery is a ‘good neighbor’ to all who know him in northern Greenville County. He has demonstrated selfless commitment to his family, his community, his church, the Shriners and North Greenville University. He has exemplified servant leadership and a generous spirit that have not only contributed to the well-being of the community of his birth but also to the prosperity for many grateful South Carolinians.”
Emery graduated from North Greenville Academy in 1958, and completed a Bachelor of Science in Business degree from the university in 1996. That same year, NGU bestowed an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree on Emery. He holds the distinction of having the most diplomas from the institution, including high school, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and honorary doctorate.
“At a critical juncture in the life of North Greenville, he invested his personal resources to keep the institution open,” said President Fant. “Without Arnold Emery, there would be no North Greenville University today. Today NGU offers more than 115 areas of study, serving students from 37 states and 27 other countries. The impact of his engagement with this university is truly beyond measure.”
“Dr. Emery’s investments are providing dividends far beyond his Greenville County roots,” said State Representative Mike Burns (District 17). “At a time when so many look only to self and to short-sighted gain, the achievements of this good man deserve recognition by our state with its highest civilian award.”
Emery was reared at the foot of Glassy Mountain, just north of NGU’s Tigerville campus, and still resides in Landrum. He dropped out of high school to work on a farm and with a brother in the timber business. That led to his own logging operation. In 1950 he married Pauline Hughes. That same year, he entered into two years of military service. After serving as an MP overseas, he returned to South Carolina, and founded Arnold Emery Lumber Company in Landrum. He guided that business to expand from logging to a sawmill, planer mill, and building supply business dealing in both wholesale and retail sales.
Since 1968, Emery has been a pilot, owning multiple planes over the years. In addition to flying for his business, he made many flights as a member of the Shriner’s Flying Nobel Unit for humanitarian purposes, taking patients and sometimes doctors as far as Charleston, Cincinnati, and Houston. He is a Shriner and a member of the Hejaz Air Squadron and Cross Wind Pilot Association.
The Emerys have been active members of Southern Baptist churches throughout their 71 years of marriage. He has served as a deacon and in a variety of church leadership roles.
Emery has served as an NGU trustee for five terms, serving between 1983 and 2018, with multiple terms as board chair. He was instrumental in providing more than $100,000 in financial support to North Greenville in the 1980s, and increased that support more than five-fold in the 1990s as the university sought to stabilize financially.
In 1983, the Emerys established the Arnold E. and Pauline H. Emery Endowment at NGU “to make a college education available for worthy, needy students.” In 1986, they worked to acquire land for the NGU football complex and donated the Avenue of Flags for the football complex. In 2000, the Emerys provided leadership funds for building the Arnold and Pauline Emery Residence Hall. Additionally, they gave funds for the Arnold and Pauline Emery Game Room, which opened in 2006 in the university’s Tingle Student Life Center.
“As a former student at North Greenville, I have followed its progress over the years. I certainly remember its struggle during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when North Greenville Junior College’s future was uncertain. But because of the efforts of Dr. Emery, and others, North Greenville not only survived but thrived,” said South Carolina State Senator Dwight Loftis (District 6). “ His decades of service on its Board of Trustees provided steady leadership, and his financial contributions helped to underwrite major projects.”
“I have known of Dr. Emery since my youth. His life exemplifies the ‘Golden Rule’ and the ‘Great Commandment’ to love God and neighbor as he has persevered in faith,” said South Carolina State Senator Tom Corbin (District 5). “He overcame childhood challenges to found the Arnold Emery Lumber Company, a wholesale and retail business that provided jobs and materials, critical for economic growth of our area. More significantly, Dr. and Mrs. Emery used their profits to benefit the larger community.”
“I personally have observed his dedicated and unselfish service to this school and to its students,” said Lisa Cooper Van Riper, NGU public affairs consultant. “Having served in faculty and staff positions since 1988, I often saw Dr. Emery walking on campus, talking to students, and encouraging faculty. His investment has been multiplied as North Greenville’s graduates have entered every profession, many investing their lives in communities throughout our state, nation and world.”
NGU offers more than 115 areas of study across certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and early college opportunities. Online. In-person. At our main campus in Tigerville, SC, the Tim Brashier Campus in Greer, SC, or several educational centers around the U.S. One university, many locations. Every day. Epic. Learn more.