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November 12, 2005

James Lindsay Embrey, Jr. - Obituary

James Lindsay Embrey, Jr., a respected businessman, community builder, and leader of extraordinary vision and dedication who invested his time, resources, and energy in making life better for all who crossed his path, passed away Friday, November 11, at his home in Dallas.

Embrey was born in 1925 to Margaret Marsh and James Lindsay Embrey, in Gainesville, Texas. He was the great grandson of James Menees Lindsay who migrated to Cooke County from his native Tennessee in 1857 and became a major developer of the area, a respected judge, and a philanthropist. Growing up in Gainesville, Embrey was active in sports, and graduated with honors from Gainesville High.

Embrey made a tangible impact on the growth of North Texas. Beginning in the mid-1950s, when he and George Underwood, Jr. developed Richardson Heights, Embrey was a major force in the growth of the Richardson area. Most recently, he was chair of First Continental Enterprises and co-owner of several shopping centers and apartment complexes.

Embrey’s leadership emerged while he was an SMU student and participated in the V-12 program, which provided Navy officers from the nation’s campuses during World War II. Embrey earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1945 and, after completing his Navy service, received a B.B.A. in 1947. While at SMU, he was president of Phi Delta Theta, and lettered as a varsity guard for the SMU basketball team.

Embrey gave generously of his time, talents and resources to Southern Methodist University through the years. A member of the Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1987, he was named trustee emeritus in 1991. Past chair of both the SMU Alumni Board and Mustang Club, he also was president of the SMU Alumni Association and served on the SMU Athletic Forum Board and the School of Engineering Executive Board.

More than 2,000 engineering students have received scholarships through an endowment he established in 1978. He and his wife, Bobbie, provided gifts for the construction of the Jerry R. Junkins Engineering Building and the Gerald J. Ford Stadium. In 2003, they generously provided the lead gift for the Embrey Engineering Building, now under construction. SMU honored them in 1999 with the Mustang Award, and the School of Engineering presented Embrey with its Hall of Leaders Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004. On Nov. 3, 2005, he received the highest honor SMU bestows on its graduates, the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Embrey is survived by his wife, Bobbie G. Sherwood Embrey, his two daughters, Gayle Nelson Embrey, Lauren Marsh Embrey, his two grandsons, Jeffery Daniel Dean Harwell, Jr., James Lindsay Embrey Harwell. He is also survived by his stepchildren, Robert Sherwood Pirtle, James Taylor Pirtle, Jeanann Pirtle Galvis, and Lynne Pirtle Bierdz. Embrey is also survived by his foster son, David Moore, and his cousin, Bryan Marquis.

A private interment for family will be held Tuesday, Nov. 15. A public memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Spring Valley United Methodist Church, 7700 Spring Valley Road. The Rev. Dr. Don R. Benton will officiate and Dr. R. Gerald Turner, president of SMU, will deliver the eulogy.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the J. Lindsay Embrey, Jr. Engineering Building Fund, P.O. Box 750402, Dallas, TX 75275.

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