Richard Charles Emery

Richard Charles Emery, 89, of La Crosse and formerly of Barre Mills, passed away on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at Gundersen Lutheran Health System after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on January 20th.


Richard Charles Emery, 89, of La Crosse and formerly of Barre Mills, passed away on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at Gundersen Lutheran Health System after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on January 20th.

Dick was born in La Crosse on July 5, 1930, to Rinehart and Verna (Olson) Emery. Dick attended La Crosse public schools, graduating from Central High in 1949. He entered the Navy while still in high school and was discharged in 1952.

Dick met Jo Ann Kriesel when, following an automobile accident, he was admitted to the hospital floor where she worked as an RN. Soon after, they met again (and again by chance) at a VFW dance in La Crosse. Dick and Jo Ann were married on June 25, 1955, at First Lutheran in La Crosse. They later joined Mt. Calvary Ev. Lutheran Church, where both were active in church activities.

Dick held a variety of jobs – often two or more at the same time. In 1967, he made the courageous decision (with four young children and a mortgage) to leave the security of Northern States Power and embark on a totally new career as a District Representative for Aid Association for Lutherans (later Thrivent). Dick had a long, satisfying and successful career with AAL. He formed life-long friendships with many of his clients, retiring in 1992.

After “retirement,” Dick went back to work in jobs that spoke to his interests: sales at Murphy’s Frame and Axle and later as a courier for Gundersen Clinic, both of which satisfied his need to meet people and be “on the road.” Throughout their long life together, Dick and Jo Ann enjoyed exploring the country in their motorhome.

Dick was fun-loving; he enjoyed being with people, especially family. The only thing Dick liked more than laughing was to make other people laugh. His jokes were not always good ones, but he laughed anyway and most of the time, so did others. He loved cars, road trips, and his Green Bay Packers, often wearing green and gold colors to formal occasions, much to the dismay of his children! Jo Ann’s death in 2014 was a blow, but he eventually rallied, and his positive outlook sustained him even as his own health declined and he became less independent over the last few years.

He was a very proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather and a devoted husband. A common refrain after Jo Ann’s passing was ‘I just want to be with Jo Ann.’ Dick has his wish now and the rest of us will miss his distinctive laugh and his youthful spirit.

Dick is survived by his children Kathleen Emery (Paul Anderson) of Verona, Wis., Mark (Sherry) Emery of Oconomowoc, Wis., Rebecca Emery (friend Carl Henry) of La Crescent, Minn. and Samuel Emery of Seattle, Wash.; his grandchildren Alexandra Wardwell (Ben Walker), Joseph (Leslie) Wardwell, Max Wardwell, Jennifer (Jason) Graham, Kelly Cline, and Jacob Emery; and his great-grandchildren Brina Cline, Eleanor Graham and Iver Walker. He is also survived by brothers Bill (Joan) Emery of Duluth, Minn, Don (Sharon) Emery of Joliet, Ill, and Tom Emery of La Crosse, Wis.; by a sister-in-law, Barbara (Fred) Von Haden of Montgomery, Texas and a brother-in-law, David Kriesel of Melrose, Wis.; as well as many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his spouse, parents, brother Robert Emery, sister Marilyn Jirsa, brothers-in-law Curt Heim and “Red” Jirsa, and sisters-in-law Ginny Emery, Betty Heim, and Rosalie Kriesel.

Friends may call at Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services of La Crosse, located at 200 West Ave. So., on Friday, January 31, 2020 from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m., and at the church on Saturday, February 1, 2020 from Noon until the time of service. The memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 1st, at Mount Calvary Ev. Lutheran Church, 1411 South 16th St., La Crosse. Pastor Robert Wassermann will officiate.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred and can be directed to the La Crosse County Senior Nutrition Program (aka Meals-on-Wheels/ADRC), Freedom Honor Flight of La Crosse, or the charity of the donor’s choice. Online condolences may be submitted at

Dick’s family would like to thank the dedicated and caring staff at Eagle Crest South and Hearten House I, as well as his many providers at Gundersen Health System. The tender care and many kindnesses they provided to Dick are greatly appreciated.