On Thursday January 24, over 130 of the South Shore’s top non-profit leaders, donors, community members and friends gathered with Herb and Paulie Emilson to celebrate their 90th birthdays, which are just weeks apart from one another. (Herb Emilson turned 90 on the day of the party, and his wife Paulie will be turning 90 just a few weeks later on Wednesday, February 20). The event, sponsored by the South Shore YMCA, was held at Laura’s Center for the Arts, on the South Shore YMCA’s Emilson Branch campus in Hanover.
Impactful giving has been the drumbeat to which Herb and Paulie have marched for the past 35 years. Upon retirement, they turned their attention to philanthropy, a passion that emerged over time. In their quest to find meaningful ways to give back, one of the charities they discovered and began to learn more about was the South Shore YMCA, and the relationship has blossomed ever since. Today, the Emilson family’s generosity can be seen in countless ways, such as the South Shore Y’s Emilson Branch which is named after them, and Laura’s Center for the Arts, which was named in honor of their late daughter Laura Reikert. Beyond the South Shore YMCA, Herb and Paulie have given millions over the years to dozens of South Shore organizations.
To kick off the celebration, Paul Gorman, President and CEO of the South Shore YMCA, spoke fondly of Herb and Paulie’s impact over the past several decades, not only financially, but personally as well. Heads across the room nodded in agreement as Gorman shared memories of their generosity, their mentorship, and their friendship.
After Gorman’s remarks, three citations were provided to both Herb and Paulie by Jim Cantwell – Massachusetts State Director representing the U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Senator Viriato (Vinny) DeMacedo – State Senator representing Plymouth and Barnstable, and Michael Maresco – Marshfield Town Administrator.
To cap the event, Herb Emilson stepped up to the podium to thank those in attendance, and to reflect on how important giving back has been for him and Paulie.
“I’m pleased with our last 35 years. I must say, the Lord has been good to us. He gave us more than we needed, and so we wanted to give back,” said Emilson. “It’s been a wonderful experience working with all of you folks. And when we get thanked it means a great deal to us, because it means we’ve done the right thing for our community.”
Before departing, guests could be seen lining up to deliver heartfelt happy birthdays on their 90 years each, and an even more sincere thank you’s to Paulie and Herb for their friendship over time.
“I hope that Herb and Paulie enjoyed the day, and that they could see how much they mean to me personally, to the South Shore YMCA, and to the rest of their friends, colleagues and partners here today who gathered to honor such a special couple,” said Paul Gorman, President and CEO, South Shore YMCA. “We’re honored to have been able to host such an important milestone in both Herb and Paulie’s lives and look forward to their friendship for many more years to come.”
For more on the event, view the Patriot Ledger’s article here highlighting Herb and Paulie’s 90th Birthday Celebration hosted by the South Shore YMCA.
For images, please see below and allow time for the pictures to load as there are many.
For quotes about Herb and Paulie from event attendees, please scroll down (below image gallery).
Messages of Congratulations and Appreciation from Guests at Herb and Paulie Emilson’s 90th Birthday Celebration:
“For me, what started out as a professional relationship with Herb and Paulie deepened over time. Today, I look to them as mentors, as coaches, and as friends. At this level of understanding, you can feel comfortable challenging each other and being honest with each other, all while knowing that you’re working toward common goals to better ourselves so that we can ultimately help to better the communities we serve. It’s with this honesty and respect that progress is made. So much we’ve accomplished here at the South Shore Y over the years can be attributed to the solid foundation of supporters we have in our corner, Herb and Paulie being two of our biggest champions. They are an inspiration to me personally and to all of us at the South Shore Y. We’re so honored to have been able to host this celebration for them today, and look forward to their continued mentorship and friendship for many, many more years to come.” – Paul Gorman, President and CEO, South Shore YMCA
“Herb and Paulie are the fabric of what has today become the largest acute care community hospital in Massachusetts. It was because of them that they started the parade of major gift donations for us and probably the entire South Shore when they made their first historic gift over 30 years ago. Herb and Paulie believe in giving to support the widest range and the most people they possibly can. When you support an institution like the Hospital or the Y, there’s a very good chance that every member of our community has either experienced the hospital, experienced the Y, or knows someone who’s going to, or will at some point. So when they give philanthropically it comes from the heart, and its about helping the most amount of people at all times. If you think about their giving, they’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people they’ll never know, and never meet, and I think in talking to Herb this means the world to them.” – Chris O’Connor, Senior VP of External Affairs & Chief Development Officer, South Shore Health
“Herb and Paulie have strengthened the South Shore in many, many ways. They’ve touched people’s lives, their hearts, their spirits – they’re a critical inspiration. And to experience that here, to take it all in, it almost gives you purpose in life, to aspire to be more like them. I think what they’ve done and what they continue to do for others is wonderful.” – Chris Oddleifson, CEO, Rockland Trust
“They are very, very special and important to us and have been for over 20 years now. They’re like our other parents. We love them dearly.” – Alex and Davis Clark
“I’ve known Herb for about 25 years now, and for me, he’s been a mentor in philanthropy and in charitable giving, and that’s not just about giving money, that’s the way he approaches projects, challenges, and charities he gets involved in. Paulie is always at his side and is always a big part of their decision making, too. Herb has truly influenced my life in not only my relationship with the South Shore Y, but in balancing business and family life as well. I look up to him.” – Dan DeMarco, South Shore YMCA Executive Board Member
“I first met Herb and Paulie about 27 years ago. They are caring and loving. They’ve helped so many organizations. They mean so much to the community of Marshfield. They are very, very special people, and I wish both of them another 90 years of good health and happiness.” – Michael Maresco, Marshfield Town Administrator
“I met Herb and Paulie through the Friendship Home where they were incredibly generous as they are with so many non-profits, and they’ve become dear friends ever since. My husband goes to church with Herb, and so we’ve had the opportunity to have conversations on a lot of levels about family about faith, about business, and about leadership. To me, he’s always been a real mentor, and somebody that I look to for advice, both personally and professionally. I’ve had an opportunity to get to know Paulie as well, and both her and Herb are truly the most genuine, no-nonsense people we’ve had the pleasure to know.” – Lauren Payne
“Herb and Paulie are just wonderful people. Plain and simple. They’ve done everything over the years for their community and beyond. They give their time, their money, their knowledge, their advice – you name it. They deserve this celebration and then some.” – Mark and Lisa DiRico
“I’m thrilled that we could be here today to celebrate Herb and Paulie’s 90th birthday with them. Herb and Paulie have been involved with the Watershed since its inception. They’ve been steadfast supporters of protecting our waters and ensuring that we have a clean and healthy environment for our next generation. There’s nobody else like Herb and Paulie in our book. They’re the most giving, not only with their money, which is an incredible support when you’re trying to affect change in the world, but what’s really striking to me is their interest in our work. Their emotional support to us means so much. They’re just so giving of their time, not just their money, making them generous in so many ways. Personally, I love them. They’re inspiring people and its my absolute pleasure to know them.” – Sue MacCallum, Director of the Mass Audubon South Shore Sanctuaries