Mary Helen Emerson Limebrook
Born: Dec. 6, 1921 nnn
Died: Jan. 4, 2013
Mary Emerson Limebrook, a long-time resident of Beach Road in Capistrano Beach, passed away on Jan. 4 at the age of 91, surrounded by her loving family.
Mary was born in 1921 in Grand Rapids, Mich. to Joseph George Emerson of El Paso and Mary Theresa Droste Emerson of Grand Rapids. She and her family lived in El Paso while her father worked as a mining engineer in Deming, New Mexico and other areas.
In 1928 the Emerson family, including Mary and her three brothers Joe, Bob and Jack, moved to Santa Monica, where father Joseph worked for Douglas Aircraft Corp. as an aeronautical engineer.
Mary attended Mount Saint Mary’s College in Brentwood, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in English, graduating in 1943. Later she traveled across the country to attend Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where she was awarded a master’s degree in English – a level of education still rare for women of her time – in 1944.
While attending Catholic U, she met Midshipman William H. (Bill) Limebrook, USN, at a dance held for naval officer candidates and college women. They soon fell in love and agreed to be married after Bill returned from his duties in the South Pacific as an officer on LCT 359, operating in the Philippine Islands and in the Battle of Biak, New Guinea in World War II. While he was gone, Mary worked for a time for Douglas Aircraft to help out with the war effort.
Upon his return from the Pacific Campaign at the end of WWII, Mary and Bill were married in Santa Monica and moved to Bill’s home town of St. Louis.
Having lived most of her life on the beach, living in St. Louis was not an option for Mary. She insisted that they move back to California within sniffing distance of the blue Pacific Ocean. After additional military duty during the Korean War, Bill obtained his teaching credential at UCLA and started his career as an elementary school teacher in Santa Monica at Lincoln Elementary School.
In 1948 the first of their six children came into the world with the birth of Mary Frances. Two years later, David was born, then Jonathan, William, Hugh and Phoebe who came along when Mary was 43 years of age.
In 1955, Bill and Mary moved the family to San Clemente, California when Bill got a job teaching fourth grade at Las Palmas Elementary School in San Clemente. He later became a distinguished administrator in the Capistrano Unified School District, retiring in 1982.
During this time, Mary and Bill had the foresight to buy property on Beach Road in Capo Beach in the late 1950s for a pittance of its current value, as well as a second rental property in San Clemente. Rentals from both properties became Mary’s primary sources of income after Bill passed away in 1984. As a widow for 29 years, her strong devotion to Bill remained as her inner strength and her fierce independence was evident in her will to live a long and prosperous life.
For more than 20 years Mary supplemented her property rental income by working as a genealogist for World Wide Tracers. As part of her duties she was adept at locating long lost parents, long lost children and even long lost lovers in a time long before computers and the internet made such efforts a snap.
Her spirit of adventure took her to England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany, where she researched Emerson and Limebrook family lineages. Additionally she was a constant visitor in the Salt Lake City Genealogy Library where well-kept Mormon records helped her in her research efforts.
Mary passed peacefully into the next life in her home on the beach within sight of her beloved Pacific Ocean as the sun shined, dolphins frolicked and her entire family gathered around. She left behind six children, 10 grandchildren, four great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, sons and daughters-in- law and hundreds of friends. She will be missed by all.
Viewing will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11 at Lesneski Family Mortuary at 640 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente. Rosary recital will be at 7 p.m. to be followed by remembrances of Mary’s life. Funeral mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 at San Felipe de Jesus Catholic Church, 26010 Domingo Ave., Capo Beach. Interment will be next to her beloved husband Bill at Ascension Cemetery, 24754 Trabuco Road in Lake Forest following the service.
— Submitted by the family.