COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Dozens of people packed into a Cobb County church this morning to celebrate the life of our dear friend and colleague “Captain” Herb Emory who died last weekend of a massive heart attack.
The public celebration of life for Herb, a long-time WSB Radio and WSB-TV traffic reporter, was held at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.
About 200 people people filed past Captain Herb’s beloved Mayberry squad car.
Herb's family was joined by friends, colleagues, traffic troopers, law enforcement officers from all over and members of the public he touched.
The celebration of life started with his familiar voice that calmed, guided and entertained from high above for more than 20 years.
"We’ve had a week to mourn, a week to think of this remarkable life, what Captain Herb meant to the many communities he served," said friend and colleague Scott Slade.
Colleagues from WSB Radio spoke of the recent snow jam asking anyone to stand if they listened and were comforted by Captain Herb that January day.
"If you listened to Herb that Tuesday afternoon, leading our team trying valiantly to get you home, telling (saying) you can't get home," said friend and colleague Pete Spriggs.
Along with the memories, the laughter, there were also tears.
The adjutant general for the Georgia National Guard presented Captain Herb and his wife Karen a special military award.
Friends talked of his love and contribution to NASCAR and motor sports in Georgia. But mostly, they remembered Captain Herb as always positive, always selfless and always larger than life; a life lived in constant service to others.
"That guy just wanted to reach out of the radio and help you and was concerned about you,” Spriggs said.
One word heard over and over again was "genuine."
Herb died doing what he loved, helping others after hearing about a crash near his Douglas County home.
Douglas County Sheriff’s officials said Herb, 61, stopped to help at a car accident on South Burnt Hickory Road Saturday when he suddenly fell ill. Herb was taken to WellStar Douglas Hospital where he later died.
Herb, who been with WSB Radio and WSB-TV since 1991 and served as an Atlanta traffic reporter since 1971, is well known for guiding drivers around the metro area’s busy roads.
"In Atlanta I never would have made it through without Capt. Herb in the sky copter," said Delores Short.
But he was also known to many for his tireless commitment to public service. Herb was a member of numerous charity boards and civic organizations.
Herb was previously was a News/Traffic reporter from 1978 through 1991 with WQXI-AM, 94Q-Star 94, Georgia Network News. Herb said he earned the title of captain when before his first broadcast on WSB, the manager told him to introduce himself as Colonel Herb Emory. After figuring out that it was too hard to say, he was given the name Captain Herb Emory instead.
He was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the inaugural Excellence in Motorsports Journalism Award in 2012.
Herb moved to Atlanta in 1971 from Transylvania County, North Carolina. Herb’s father was a volunteer pit crew member for Ralph Earnhardt, Dale Sr.’s dad, in the 1960s.
Herb’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.