Emory Menefee was born in 1929 as West Texas depression baby, and grew up mostly in small oil towns where his father managed oilfield supply stores. He developed an early interest in engineering and chemistry, and after high school in Pampa went to Texas Tech for a BS in chemical engineering in 1950. After spending two years in Amarillo as an engineer in the Bureau of Mines Helium Division, he went on to Cambridge, Mass., where he received his PhD in physical chemistry from MIT with thesis research on krypton.
He met and married Josephine while still a grad student there. They moved to Wilmington where, at du Pont, he began his career interest in high polymers. In 1960 he took a job with the USDA in Albany, California, extending his polymer work to fibrous keratins such as hair and wool. After nearly 25 years there, he began a consulting collaboration with a dermatologist now at the University of California at San Francisco, branching into medical research. He taught a graduate course in high performance polymers at U.C. Davis, and has published some 60 research papers.
Josephine and Emory have three children, Lisa, Andrea and Rossana, living respectively in Chico, Thailand, and Charlotte, though they themselves continue to live in the same 87 year old house in Richmond that they bought in 1964, maintaining over the years several cats and a garden filled with succulents. In the late 70s, they bought a piece of land in Sonoma County and handbuilt a cabin in the woods that now sports comfortable amenities such as a sauna and electric toilet.
While in Wilmington, Emory and a friend founded the Evergreen Film Society to show what were then called "experimental" films, both of them having had an interest in this then minor art form for some years. After arriving in California, he joined a fledgling group in the East Bay called Canyon Cinema and later went on to run weekly screenings, edit a newsletter, and help set up a filmmakers cooperative. Partly as an outgrowth of this interest, and from a long love of classical music, he developed a great interest in contemporary music, both as a listener and in his attempts at composition with a computer.
Emory has enjoyed making drawings and paintings since before high school days, and eventually he took some classes at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early 60s. He felt that the main thing he came away with was the importance of plugging away. As a result, the house is filled with this work A gallery of some of them will be available soon on his website at www.emenefee.com.
While at Texas Tech, he discovered the magazine Et Cetera, usually called ETC. It was started by S.I. Hayakawa after he broke from Alfred Korzybski, the originator of General Semantics. Emory was electrified by the articles, and eventually plowed into "Science and Sanity," Korzybski's seminal work. Other tasks kept him from further involvement for nearly 30 years, but through a lab colleague his interest was rekindled. The headquarters of the International Society for General Semantics was then in San Francisco (it's now in Fort Worth), and he soon found himself on the board of directors, eventually acting as president for four years. The philosophy of general semantics has many facets, but a principal one is the study of how often we forget that words are wholly abstract "things," and act on them as though they were concrete reality, often with disastrous consequences.
Life has slowed a little for Emory and Jo, who don’t have the stamina to pursue things such as travel as avidly as they once did.. They enjoy the simpler pleasures that are often within one’s reach at home. Emory’s writing of his novel "The Cultivation of Weeds," seemed a perfect challenge for this stage of life, when his friend and now publisher Leigh Robinson suggested that they both write a novel at the same time. From his long standing interest in polymers and their sometimes peculiar behavior, it was easy for Emory to introduce some ideas of nanotechnology. Other parts of the novel, the politics, the unfair distribution of services in this country, the sex, the violence -- these are all around us, and just needed a little coaxing into the computer. The experience was almost like a graduate course in writing for him, and he is eager to experiment with another novel.
ExPress, El Cerrito, CA
World Wildlife Federation
High Sierra Hiking Club
San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
National Resources Defense...
© 2013 Red Room Omnimedia Corporation. All rights reserved.