Emory Report
May 7, 2007
Volume 59, Number 30

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May 7, 2007
Benefactor, alumnus Cherry Logan Emerson leaves legacy of arts and sciences at Emory

by kim urquhart

Cherry Logan Emerson, an alumnus and generous University benefactor whose contributions have raised the profile of Emory’s arts and sciences, died on Sunday, April 29. He was 90.

“Through his generosity, wisdom and devotion to Emory, Emerson has left a significant legacy,” said Rosemary Magee, vice president and secretary of the University.

A generous supporter of the Chemistry Department, Emerson was involved in numerous academic and philanthropic endeavors. He established The Cherry L. Emerson Center for Scientific Computation, and endowed a chair in the Chemistry Department. Cherry Logan Emerson Hall, which houses research programs in chemistry, is named after him. In 1994, Emory awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Emerson was an equally strong supporter of the arts. His devotion to the Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory helped create the largest performance space in the Schwartz Center, which bears his name: Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall. He also endowed the Mary L. Emerson Chair of Piano Studies, currently occupied by Professor William Ransom.

“I will be forever grateful for everything Cherry has done to help make the extraordinary programs we are building here at Emory possible,” Ransom said.

Emerson’s interest in the arts stemmed from his youth, when as a teenager he raised money to buy his first Steinway piano by selling Coca-Colas to construction workers in his Morningside neighborhood. He went on to study piano under composer Alfredo Barili, the founder of Atlanta’s classical music scene.

Emerson graduated from Emory College in 1938 and from Emory’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1939. The chemical engineering firm he co-founded and operated for more than 30 years, Emerson and Cumming, developed numerous patents ranging from a lightweight ceramic particle still used by NASA to an adhesive system for shoes.

“Cherry will always be a member of our department,” said David Lynn, chair of the department of Chemistry. “His enthusiasm for learning, the excitement he found in new emerging technologies, and his love for the ‘people of science’ are now deeply embedded in our souls, leading us always into the new discoveries of the 21st century.”

“Cherry’s commitment to these two lifelong passions, art and science, is a model for Emory students,” said Magee, who worked with Emerson on several University arts and science initiatives. Magee particularly recalls Emerson’s charming wit and endless curiosity. “Every conversation with Cherry was essentially a graduate seminar on the meaning of life, the importance of art and a discussion of the way things work.”

A memorial service will be held on May 26 at 3 p.m. at the Central Congregational Church. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill, is in charge of arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Department of Music at Emory University.

Emerson is survived by his wife, Mary, as well as three daughters, three sons, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.