Capt. Herb Emory, the venerable News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB radio traffic guy, passed away Saturday of a heart attack. He was 61.
He died at 3:30 p.m. at WellStar Douglas Hospital after helping motorists involved in a traffic accident in Douglas County. More details here.
Emory, a North Carolina native, was an Atlanta fixture at several Atlanta radio stations over more than four decades, including 22-plus years at WSB.
UPDATE: Visitation will be Tuesday at the Jones-Wynn Funeral Home, 2189 Midway Road in Douglasville, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and again at 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. Funeral services are still pending.
UPDATE #2: I just received this info if you want to honor his memory:
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in memory of Captain Herb Emory may be made to the Douglas County Animal Shelter, 8700 Hospital Drive, Douglasville, GA 30134 http://www.eventbrite.com/e/donation-in-honor-and-memory-of-captain-herb-emory-registration-9364175501 or A Gift of Love Services, 3870 Longview Drive, Douglasville, GA 30135 http://www.agiftofloveservices.org Messages of condolence may be sent to the family at www.jones-wynn.com. Jones-Wynn Funeral Home & Crematory of Douglasville is in charge of arrangements.
A public celebration of his life will be held Saturday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta. (Directions here.)
His former radio colleagues cited his passion for radio, NASCAR and community involvement. He spent many hours a week in a helicopter hovering over metro Atlanta’s frustrating traffic with his chipper, empathetic and distinctly Southern voice. “Oh, my achin’ I-20 toe!” he might say.
“He sounded like sweet tea, baseball – and traffic,” said Jeff Hullinger, the 11 Alive newcaster who worked at WSB radio from 2007 to 2009.
Condace Pressley, assistant program director for the news station, said she was “stunned. I’m genuinely shaken. He lived what he did. He always wanted to do more.”
Emory had recently hosted a recent Traffic Trooper luncheon for about 50 traffic reporting volunteers in the WSB headquarters cafeteria. “He made sure everyone in that room left with a prize,” she said. “A small way to thank them for what they do.”
She said Emory hosted more charity events than any other WSB personality by a long shot. She had asked him recently for his calendar and counted 83 personal appearances in 2013 alone. For years, he held annual Toys for Tots fundraisers.
Clark Howard, on the air Saturday two hours after Emory’s death, said, “He died of a heart attack, which is so ironic. This was a man who had more heart than anyone who I’ve ever had the privilege to know.”
Howard, his voice breaking, dubbed him “a good man, a great man. He was never deceptive, always enthusiastic and full of love. He died doing the kind of thing he would have wanted to do. It wouldn’t matter for Herb if it was Christmas Day, New Year’s day, any day. He loved what he did.”
Howard, in a separate interview, said to Emory, doing traffic was not work. “Even when he was not working, he was still working,” he said.
Gary McKee, the former morning host who worked with Emory at WQXI and 94Q throughout the 1980s, helped get Emory his job at WSB in 1991. “It didn’t matter if he was at a truck stop on I-75 in South Georgia or the Governor’s Ball, he was the same. He was a unique mix of talent and humbleness – and great to work with.”
“I did traffic reports for eight years before Herb came over,” said his colleague Scott Slade, the news man for 23 years at WSB, on WSB Saturday evening on air. “That guy took me to school the first week. He turned it into an art form.”
“I never saw him tired or despondent – at least publicly,” Slade added. “He’s had personal tragedies, losing his son and so many other things. But he always came back with the idea of being a servant, a public servant.”
“He never took himself seriously but took his job seriously,” said Sean Hannity, the syndicated talks how host who is heard on WSB and called into the station Saturday evening to reminisce about Emory.
Neal Boortz, the former WSB host who retired last year, also called in and cracked, “Even if you wake up in the middle of the night, only Capt. Herb could find you a better route to the bathroom.”
“We lost not only a colleague but we lost a friend,” said Herman Cain, the late-morning host on WSB, on air. “It’s one of those tragic things that happens in life that the next day in our life is not promised to any of us… It’s a loss for all of us.”
Emory was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2008 and hosted a weekly NASCAR show on WSB on weekends with his wife Karen for 18 years until 2011. His last Twitter filing this morning was about NASCAR.
According to the Channel 2 Action News story, Emory said he earned the title of captain when before his first broadcast on WSB, the manager told him to introduce himself as Colonel Herb Emory. After figuring out that it was too hard to say, he was given the name Captain Herb Emory instead.
In 2010, the Douglasville TV station interviewed him: