Chuck Emery’s lifelong relationship with FVS began in 1935 as a student when the School was just five years old, and spanned nearly seven decades. He thrived as a student at Fountain Valley, naming academics and his relationships with teachers as his defining FVS memories. At Commemcement he was awarded the Colgate Cup, the School’s highest honor.
Emery was accepted to Yale, and after graduation in 1942, he joined the FVS faculty. In 1943, Emery enlisted in the Navy. He volunteered for one of the most dangerous missions in Naval Combat Demolition and later joined an underwater demolition team as a "frogman"—the precursor to a Navy Seal. Emery earned two Silver Stars and the Navy Cross.
After his discharge from the Navy in 1945, Emery taught at Fountain Valley School for two years. He left to continue his studies, earning an M.A. at the University of Colorado and pursuing Ph.D. studies at Columbia University. In 1962, he and his wife, Jane, returned to campus and for the next 28 years, he devoted his life to coaching students in everything from tennis to Greek mythology.
Emery was a much-loved teacher, known for making his classroom an open, accessible place for students. The Class of 1966 was the first of three classes to dedicate The Owl yearbook to him. In 1985, he was elected Senior Master Emeritus, the only FVS faculty ever to earn such distinction. Emery retired from teaching in 1989, having worked for four of the School’s six headmasters.
However, he did not retire from the School. Emery remained closely connected to Fountain Valley, volunteering many hours of service and supporting the School financially since the first Annual Fund drive in 1954. A devoted alumnus, he holds the record for longest serving Class Agent, from 1975 to 2005, was vice president of the Alumni Association from 1950-55 and in 1998, he received the Lewis Perry Jr. Alumni Award. Further testament to his dedication to Fountain Valley is the Charles and Jane Emery Scholarship, an endowment with annual awards to students who exemplify the School’s high standards of achievement and citizenship, much like Emery himself did.
Two important annual awards presented at Commencement carry the Emery name. The John W. Emery Music Award (honoring Chuck’s brother) is given to the student whose appreciation for music and creative potential have been awakened at FVS. One of the School’s top honors, the Eleanor W. Emery Award (named for Chuck’s mother), recognizes a student for the qualities she so admired: sensitivity to the needs of others, warmth, good humor and enthusiasm. These very same qualities defined her son, Charles F. Emery.
An Emery family member has been at Fountain Valley School for most of its 77 years. Eleanor Emery worked for Mr. Froelicher beginning in 1930, recruiting students from Denver. In 1939, Chuck’s brother John ’44 entered the School. Emery’s nephew Jake Emery ’71 graduated from FVS and joined the faculty from 1976-79. Jake returned in 1992 and is currently History Department Chair.
Upon the occasion of the School’s 75th Anniversary, Chuck Emery was among five distinguished alumni honored as a recipient of the "Living the Mission Award." This was one of the final opportunities for our community to honor a man whose life and dedicated service was shaped by the foundation of embracing challenge intellectually, physically and spiritually.