South Shore YMCA mourns the passing of Herb Emilson

Posted: Jan. 24, 2024

The South Shore YMCA community is mourning the passing of our beloved friend and steadfast supporter, Herb Emilson, who passed away Monday, January 22, 2024, just shy of his 95th birthday.

Born on January 24, 1929, Carl H. Emilson was a man lovingly devoted to his wife of over 70 years, Pauline Emilson, to his family, his friends, and his community. He had a sharp mind for business and was a trusted mentor and advisor to hundreds who sought his guidance and wisdom.

In 1981 Herb joined the Colonial Group, a mutual fund company in Boston, where he became co-owner and served as vice president, president, and chairman. He retired in 1995 when the company was purchased.

Upon retirement, Herb and Paulie turned their attention to philanthropy, which became a passion. Impactful giving has been the drumbeat to which Herb and Paulie Emilson have marched ever since.

In their quest to find meaningful ways to give back to their community, a charity that grew near and dear to their hearts was the South Shore YMCA. In 1991, they began giving to the South Shore Y, and the relationship blossomed.

“A YMCA in the community says a lot about the people who live there,” Herb Emilson once shared. “It demonstrates wholesomeness, concern and caring for families and children. Every community deserves a YMCA.”

Herb served on the committee to expand the impact of South Shore YMCA from a single Quincy Y location to build a new Y in the Hanover area. The committee elected to acquire the Mill Pond Tennis Club in Hanover, and Herb led the way to fund the Capital Campaign for the project. The “South Shore YMCA at Mill Pond” opened on November 1, 1998. The branch was officially dedicated and named “The Emilson YMCA” in February 2013 to honor the Emilson family.

In 2011, the Emilsons lost their daughter, Laura Emilson Reikert, at age 55, and the family made a major donation to build a new arts pavilion, which is now Laura’s Center for the Arts.

Over 150 guests gathered at Laura’s Center for the Arts in January 2019 to celebrate Herb’s and Paulie’s 90th birthdays. Reflecting upon his nearly 40 years of giving to the Y, Herb said to their guests, “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. 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.”

Herb Emilson’s impact, intellect, and generosity can be experienced across all aspects of our Y. He was a key player in the merger of the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell with the South Shore YMCA Hanover Branch, and the Emilsons have supported the expansion of the Y’s Camp Burgess and Hayward overnight camps on Cape Cod.

“The South Shore YMCA would not exist today without many key supporters, which includes the Emilsons,” said South Shore YMCA President and CEO, Paul Gorman. “Herb was a dear friend, a loving family man, and a brilliant businessman. He was generous beyond measure. He loved giving back to the community, and the bond between the Emilson family and our Y family is one that will never be broken. I will miss this great man deeply, and I know countless others will, too. The South Shore has truly lost the patriarch of our community.”

The South Shore YMCA expresses our deep condolences and appreciation to the entire Emilson Family, Karen McArdle and her husband Douglas, Carl G. Emilson and his wife Terrie, the late Laura Reikert, and David P. Emilson and his wife Lynda.

A reception celebrating Herb’s life will be held on Tuesday, January 30, 11:30 am at Laura’s Center for the Arts at 97 Mill Street, Hanover, MA.

“The Y is a place where personal and cultural goals are being met every day. Meeting goals can be exhilarating and more importantly it builds confidence, character and additionally a sense of achievement and fulfillment to those participating. The results of which carry over into and radiate throughout the community.”

– Herb Emilson