By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lemuel Emerson Ables
April 13, 1919 Feb. 28, 2010
Emerson Ables 1
Lemuel Emerson Ables, 90, of Ceres, passed away due to natural causes at the Cohen House Hospice facility in Hughson on Feb. 28, 2010. He signed his name L. Emerson Ables, though few knew what the “L” stood for. Most knew him as Emerson, but to close friends and family he was simply Emer.
Emerson was born on April 13, 1919 in Berkeley, Calif. to Kenneth C. and Mae Emerson Ables. He grew up on his parent’s ranch on the Klamath River near Eugene, Ore. until the age of 10.  Emerson returned to Turlock when his father bought the Marion Ranch 10 miles west of town. Arriving on the train, he told of walking down the tracks and spying the olive tree that still grows on Olive Street where his curiosity required that he taste one. He said, “that was the most God awful thing I’ve ever bitten into.” He attended Hawthorne Grammar School in town often riding a pony, though occasionally driving himself to school. At Turlock High School, he sang in the Glee Club and excelled in football as the captain of his team. There he met the many friends he would treasure for life and acquired a respect and admiration for the numerous teachers and coaches whom he remembered and spoke of fondly throughout his adult life. After graduating from THS, Emerson attended UC Berkeley, transferred to UC Davis and graduated with a degree in Animal Husbandry.  
He married Jean Brown in 1941, had three children over the next six years, poured 30 years of his heart and soul into the ranch, and served the community as a member of the Mitchell School Board of Trustees. When the Marion Ranch was sold unexpectantly by his father, Emerson moved his family to Cathey’s Valley in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. He raised turkeys for the next three years, a venture that met with failure when a plethora of diseases decimated his flocks. He would later remark about those years, “It seems that if they weren’t dying, the coyotes were eating them.” Emerson did not complain, nor had much tolerance for those who did. He tried many things over the next several years to support his family working as an agent for the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, being recognized as one of their Salesmen of The Year at the New York headquarters; as a foreman in a Turlock dehydrator; as an orchard inspector for the CA Peach Board; a product acceptance supervisor for Franzia Winery; and finally as a partner in a successful bean harvester business. He and Jean moved to their home in Ceres in 1975, where they both eventually retired in 1985. Visitors to their home would be greeted noisily by their beloved little dogs as the cats sat nonchalantly above the cacophony twitching their tails. There they shared with friends and neighbors the bounty of their huge vegetable garden.
Emerson was an avid reader, rarely without an open book near his favorite chair and bedside, often reading several works simultaneously with world history being among his favorite studies. He was comfortable in the company of everybody and enjoyed engaging friends and strangers alike. Even though retired, he and Jean would rise early, have coffee and talk with each other endlessly. They were married for 55 years before she died in April of 1996.  As with everybody, Emerson and Jean were challenged often by life but their strength, love and respect for each other, buttressed by a wonderful sense of humor, vanquished any hardship or disappointment that was thrust upon them.
Emerson was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Jean; and younger brother Kenneth, affectionately nicknamed “Blondy,” who was lost at sea during WW II while serving as a naval aviator. He is survived by his children, Kenneth of Ceres, John of Atascadero and Susan of Ceres; his grand-children, John Ables, Scott Ables, Lisa Ables, Daniel Colescott and Melanie Breaux; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Following Emerson’s wishes, his ashes now rest beside those of Jean’s at Turlock Memorial Park. A private family memorial was held. In lieu of flowers or memorial contributions, Emerson would urge you to think of being an organ donor.
Beyond his love of family and appreciation for a glass of middling wine; Emerson is best remembered for his trust of, respect for, and friendship with his fellow man.