Updated:DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. —
Hundreds gathered at first of two visitations to pay respects and offer condolences over the death of WSB traffic reporter Herb Emory.
The radio icon, who guided Atlanta drivers around traffic jams for decades, died last weekend after suffering a heart attack while helping at the scene of a traffic accident. He was 61.
One of the many who arrived at the Jones-Wynn funeral home in Douglasville was a radio co-worker and friend of Emory.
"It's painful on so many levels. Just lost a co-worker, a mentor, a dear friend. A father figure. On just so many levels. It hurts," said WSB Radio reporter and show host, Mark Arum. "If there's one thing that Herb would have wanted was for us to not slow down. He wanted us to keep going and serving the community. That's what we're going to do."
Emory, who built his career in Atlanta radio, was also a devoted community servant. He was a member of numerous charity boards and civic organizations.
"His impact on Atlanta and Georgia overall has been huge. As a person, an individual. Hopefully, we can be as friendly and warm-hearted as he was every single day. He's going to be missed," said mourner Chris Canady.
Another person told Channel 2's Tom Regan that Capt. Herb would often drive his beloved Mayberry RFD police patrol car to public events and have a wide smile on his face. It was parked outside the funeral home.
"What I remember most was his good heart, and his jokes. He never met a stranger," said mourner Vernon Benton.
Other mourners said Emory was a trusted voice who directed them to and from work for many years. A voice they said they could count on in the morning and evening.
"In Atlanta I never would have made it through without Capt. Herb in the sky copter," said Delores Short.
Arum said the loss is staggering to him and the WSB Radio Traffic Team, but they will press on.
"We have a large family, that loves Herb and we're hear supporting each other, because there's one thing Herb would have wanted was for us not to slow down. And he would want us to keep going and serving the community. And that's what we're going to do," said Arum.
Along with his traffic duties, he also worked as a reserve deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and gave tirelessly through community service including work with Toys for Tots.
"He's one of those really, really good guys that you really don't want to see go because they're irreplacable," said Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller.
Emory was born in Transylvania County, North Carolina in 1953.
In 1971 at the age of 18 he packed up and headed to metro Atlanta for broadcasting school and to hit the airwaves as a traffic reporter.
That move would set him on a legendary course in the minds and hearts of Atlanta commuters.
"If he said something, you believed him," said Vernon Wright. "You didn't have to research behind him too much. He was always sticking his hand out glad to see you, real pleasant fellow."
Emory's fans and followers say things won't be the same without his perspective and way with words, but they say he's left a lasting impact on this city.
The family has scheduled a private funeral service. A public memorial celebrating Emory life will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in East Cobb County.