Photo provided
Emily Ehmer was a former reporter for The Noblesville Ledger and Topics Newspapers, and former recreation director for Hamilton County Parks at Cool Creek Park. She died on Tuesday.
Photo provided Emily Ehmer was a former reporter for The Noblesville Ledger and Topics Newspapers, and former recreation director for Hamilton County Parks at Cool Creek Park. She died on Tuesday.
I met Emily Ehmer when she came to work at The Noblesville Ledger in the late 1980s.
She had two kids, Adam and Molly in Westfield Washington Schools. She lived in a little bungalow in downtown Westfield. And she wrote news and feature stories about the Westfield area.
We became newsroom friends, eating lunch together at work, and hanging out after work with co-workers.
There were Tuesday nights out dancing at Kip’s Pub on 25-cent beer night, and The Vogue nightclub in Broad Ripple on weekends. I remember us staying out so late one Tuesday that she wore sunglasses the next day to work to avoid the fluorescent light glare.
There was dressing up for Halloween and trick-or-treating for beer. Playing sand volleyball on Sunday evenings at Sunblest Apartments in Fishers, where I lived. And dolling up to go out to eat before hitting the town.
We had such fun in those days.
One weekend, in the late 1980s, we piled into her small four-door car and headed for Chicago, where we visited the world-famous Billy Goat Tavern that became famous in a Saturday Night Live skit, with another stop at the also famous Limelight nightclub.
She was among a big group of us Ledger gal pals, in the early 1990s, who attended a Symphony on the Prairie concert together, picnicking on the hill with our dates.
Looking back on these memories, it is with great sadness that I share the news of her passing. Emily (Hegman) Ehmer was born on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 1951. She died on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. She was 68.
When looking through newspaper archives on Thursday, I found one of her old newspaper stories about how the Quaker influence was strong in Westfield’s birth, published Sept. 29, 1988, in The Ledger’s 100th anniversary edition. She was a great writer and loved to tell stories, as editor of the Topics Newspapers’ Westfield Enterprise.
Former Ledger/Topics Newspapers co-worker and journalist Angie (Baranski) Hopkins took over Ehmer’s beat but joined the group of friends who hung out together. “She was the first person I talked to when I started with The Ledger,” Hopkins said in a group message Thursday morning. That very week, Ehmer covered the story of Elwood Setters, 60, and his wife, Shirley Setters, 57, who were found dead in February 1989 in a house they were remodeling in Noblesville.
Hopkins and Ehmer became fast friends. “She was always so honest with people, even if the truth hurt,” Hopkins, Westfield, said.
I can’t recall the year, but Ehmer took a job as recreation director for Hamilton County Parks Department at the then new Cool Creek Park, where she started up the concerts. I remember how she worked so hard to promote the park and to plan events that included a haunted trail.
“She was a gem,” said Julie Sole, who recalled her early days at Westfield Chamber of Commerce, of which she was executive director. “Emily and I worked on creating a Cool Creek Easter Egg Hunt, and we were blown away with the turnout. We had planned for a good crowd, but it was overwhelming.” Currently, the administrative manager for the Community Development Department for the City of Westfield, she said, “We had such a good time as we spent hours together creating that event. We just laughed afterward at how successful it was.”
In December 1995, the parks board made plans for restoring Potter’s Bridge, Hamilton County’s last covered bridge. In a Dec. 7, 1995, article in The Ledger, Ehmer estimated the work would take two years. The bidding on the project started in 1998. And two years later, as she predicted, the restored bridge and new Potter’s Bridge Park opened Sept. 18, 1990. She loved the parks and nature and being out in it.
Ehmer divorced and remarried and divorced again during the time I knew her. We all went to her tropical-themed wedding reception after she eloped to Antigua with her second husband, a bassist from the Dog Talk band.
She loved to read and write. And take photos. Photography was one of her hobbies. She also loved art and to attend art exhibits, and in later years was an artist herself. She loved music, oftentimes heading out to enjoy her favorite musicians at the Jazz Kitchen, where somewhere along the line, she met her longtime partner, bassist Frank Smith, a keeper, she would say.
They lived near Butler University, where she loved to take walks on the Indiana Central Canal trail behind the college, where she had earlier earned a bachelor’s degree in arts administration. She also earned a master’s degree with a major in public relations and a minor in journalism at Ball State University. She went back to school again and earned her doctorate in mass communication at Indiana University.
Ehmer moved to Texas to be closer to her son, Adam, and his wife. She took a job as an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. She loved teaching young people.
She and Frank lived in Texas for the past four years, most recently in San Marcos.
We exchanged Christmas cards and birthday cards and texted each other on New Year’s and Mother’s Day. She came to see my daughter in the role of Molly in Christian Youth Theatre’s production of “Annie Jr.” musical at Marian University in May 2014. “You are officially a diva now,” she posted on her Facebook page along with photos of my daughter in the show. “I really enjoyed the musical - great job.”
In December 2018, the last line of Ehmer’s Christmas card to me, she penned, “May get home to Indy for a visit next summer.”
She had a way with words and with people and being optimistic.
Ehmer was always willing to help a friend and be a friend. She was a mentor in both life and work, said former Ledger/Topics journalist Lisa Hullinger York. “She encouraged you to look at life differently. And to laugh at yourself.”
Hullinger York said, “She was always an adviser on work issues and just life. She loved her mother dearly and was so close to her. And she was great with kids.She raised them to be free spirits (like herself) and truly who they wanted to be. She always encouraged you to be true to yourself.”
Former Ledger/Topics journalist Susan Hoskins Miller, who was later Westfield Enterprise editor, agreed.
She also became friends with Ehmer. “She was fun to go out with back in the day. We danced at the Vogue. She was a dear, supportive friend, always ready with good advice when I needed it.”
Miller, of Carmel, said, “She would fill me in on the backstory of some things that were going on. Then, we both went to work for not-for-profits writing grants. She did it first, so she was a mentor for me in that realm,” Miller said.
Marilyn Cooley of Fishers, a former Topics and Ledger co-worker and journalist, who was in our group chat, said, “The world will not be the same.”
It’s probably been 25 years ago that Ehmer was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent treatment and had both breasts replaced. She still laughed about it, making a joke that she had always wanted larger breasts.
“I remember when she had that,” Miller said. “She helped me through mine seven years ago, and she was so supportive.”
Hullinger York said. “She always made you feel so special. She battled cancer with optimism.”
We hadn’t heard anything in years about our friend’s cancer. I only heard on Thursday that the cancer had returned.
Just after 1 a.m. Thursday, I got a text from mutual friend Pangga Lambert, a former Westfield resident who now lives in Fishers. She met Ehmer when their kids were young at Westfield schools, and we became great friends, often spending time together with Ehmer. The three of us ran around together for a while, during “our days as pool sharks at Kip’s,” Ehmer would say.
“We’re going to miss her,” said Lambert, who texted me news of Ehmer’s passing.
I was shocked and hoped it wasn’t true. But Thursday morning, when I awakened, Lambert texted me again with confirmation and then later called Thursday afternoon to talk more.
She forwarded a screenshot of Adam Ehmer’s Facebook page, where he posted on Wednesday afternoon, “My mother, Emily Ehmer, passed away peacefully yesterday surrounded by loved ones in San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 68. As per her wishes, there will not be a funeral or public memorial service, but our family will be performing our own private memorials.”
Emily Ehmer, we will miss you always. Rest in peace.
-Contact Betsy Reason at