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Obituaries » Gayle P. Emerson

Gayle P. Emerson, 84, of Luray, died Thursday evening, Aug. 17, 2017, at Winchester Medical Center after a brief illness.

What specialists diagnosed and treated as acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN), a rare variant of Guillian-Barré syndrome, struck her suddenly a week earlier. Until then, she enjoyed excellent health.

She was born Jan. 10, 1933, in Richmond, to the late Dorothy St. John Durrette Peters and Rev. Harold Beaumont Woodfield Peters.

The family moved to The Plains in 1945, when Mr. Peters started a 19-year tenure as rector of the Episcopal Church’s Whittle Parish, which included The Plains, Marshall and Delaplane.

Mrs. Emerson in 1950 graduated from Marshall High School, where her mother taught home economics. She completed three years of study at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg before eloping with Keith H. Emerson of Luray and marrying June 19, 1953. The couple settled in Luray, where Mr. Emerson had started his four-decade career with Shenandoah National Park.

Mrs. Emerson taught elementary school for three years before the birth of her elder son. After the birth of her second son, she was active in their school-related activities. She participated numerous community organizations, including the local VFW post women’s auxiliary and an SNP wives’ group. The Emersons became charter members of the Town and Country Supper Club. Mrs. Emerson volunteered in the Page Memorial Hospital Auxiliary gift shop and the Page One gift shop, her longest and favorite community involvement.

She was an accomplished seamstress, who made draperies, slipcovers and clothing, mostly for family members and friends. Mrs. Emerson and her husband traveled widely after his retirement in 1986. Favorite trips included Nova Scotia, Alaska, the Panama Canal, the American West and, most specially, one that retraced Mr. Emerson’s path from Normandy to Germany with Patton’s Third Army in World War II.

She also was a member of the Red Hatters. Many knew Mrs. Emerson, her husband and their dog Lucy because of their twice-daily walks on the Hawksbill Greenway in Luray. An Episcopalian, she attended Luray United Methodist Church from marriage until her death.

She particularly enjoyed watching grandchildren Katherine and Peyton grow into caring, successful young people. In July, she spent two weeks helping the family in Williamsburg as her son Philip began recovery from major ankle surgery.

Along the way, Mrs. Emerson cared for five elderly and infirm family members, including her husband late in his 92-year life. She managed the financial affairs and final arrangements for some, among them an elderly brother and sister who had worked for her late uncle and had no family.

Mr. Emerson died Feb. 7, 2017.

Survivors include her sons, Lawrence K. Emerson and wife Ellen of Warrenton and Philip G. Emerson and wife Beth of Williamsburg; two grandchildren, Katherine Emerson and Peyton Emerson of Williamsburg; many nieces, nephews and cousins, and a host of close friends.

Her four siblings, Dr. Philip B. Peters, Mary Beaumont “Polly” Peters, Peyton P. Peters (her twin) and Michael C. Peters, also preceded Mrs. Emerson in death.

Pastor Erich Bennett will conduct memorial service at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, in the pavilion at Beahm’s Chapel Cemetery near Luray. A reception will follow at the Mimslyn Inn.

Memorial contributions may be made to Page One, 42 W. Main St., Luray, Va. 22835, and/or the Luray Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 266, Luray, Va. 22835.
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