By Ralphine Major
As seniors, they sat across from each other in a classroom at Halls High School. The year was 1951. His name was Emerson Mynatt; hers, Juanita Torbett. Emerson introduced the girl to his older cousin, Ralph Omer Major. The cousin and the girl married and became our parents. Emerson married Cecil Welch, another Halls classmate. Our father was an only son with three sisters, and Emerson was an only child. Emerson was like the brother Ralph never had.
After Ralph’s death, Emerson would call us frequently. “How are you all doing?” he would ask when we answered the phone. We usually talked about politics and elections or University of Tennessee sports. I miss his calls. Emerson passed away January 10, 2019, just as the new year was beginning. Focus readers may remember reading about him in “Another Generation of Mynatt Brothers” (6-24-13 and 7-1-13), “A Birthday Celebration” for his 80th birthday (12-2-13), and “65 Years for the Mynatts” (9-19-16).
Emerson was a veteran of the United States Navy. Later, he worked for the United States Postal Service for 36 years. Since his death, we have learned that he was a great supervisor. In retirement, he was an expert woodworker and gardener. As friends filed into the back of the funeral home, a light moment was provided when a phone rang a short tune of Rocky Top. It seemed fitting since we were there to pay tribute to a devoted Tennessee fan who once had an awesome orange and white collection. Funerals give pause to reflect on life and the life after. The service was one of the best I have heard to share about Emerson’s life and briefly present the plan of salvation. Emerson was a Christian, and he certainly would have been proud.
It was cold and rainy on the day of his burial. Taps rang out across the hillside as we heard a member of the East Tennessee Honor Guard tell how skilled the Navy veteran had to be to perform the duties of a blimp navigator. As a final tribute, the flag which had draped his coffin was folded and presented to this veteran’s family. What a great legacy he leaves behind in his loving family: his wife of 67 years, Cecil; children: Carol (Arthur) Fortner, Dwight Emerson “Butch” (Pam) Mynatt, Dr. Randall Lee Mynatt, and Gwen “Gina” (Brad) Bingham; grandchildren: April, Laura, Grant, Tyler, Caroline, Jesika, and Blake; and great-grandchildren: Macie, Cooper, and Levi Emerson.