Emerson Gundy, known to John Updike Society members as Updike’s second cousin and classmate who graduated from Shillington High School in 1950, passed away on April 4, 2023. He was 90.
According to his obituary, Emerson graduated from Temple University, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, worked for Conestoga Telephone Company, and was a U.S. Coast Guard Charter Captain who liked to fish on the Chesapeake Bay. A member of Robeson Evangelical Lutheran Church and Union Lodge No. 479 F&AM, Birdsboro, Emerson was also an avid hunter and private plane pilot.
From 1990-2014 Emerson and his wife, Marlene, owned the Updike family home in Plowville, and were enthusiastic and mindful caretakers of Updike’s legacy. They donated their papers (Emerson and Marlene Gundy Collection of John Updike Materials) to Alvernia University, and their collection of Updike books to The John Updike Childhood Home, where they are on display in the bedroom where Linda and Wesley Updike slept. Emerson specified that he wanted some of the books to be displayed so that Updike’s inscriptions could be seen, and the books will be rotated so that all of them can be viewed at some point.
When the society held their first conference in 2010, the Gundys graciously opened their home so that members could have a look inside the sandstone farmhouse where Linda Updike was raised and where she returned to live with the family when John was 13. Everyone who posed for a photo in front of the Gundys’ home will forever remember their generosity and geniality. Emerson’s passing leaves a hole in our hearts. On behalf of those and other members, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to Marlene and the family.