@credit:Joe Melena Paul Emerson (1931-1979)
Publication Date: Wednesday Mar 1, 1995

Paul Emerson (1931-1979)

Paul Emerson was a mountaineer, an environmentalist, and arts lover. But above all, he was a professional journalist, who as arts editor of the Palo Alto Times is remembered for boosting Palo Alto's performing arts community to an unprecedented level of local prominence.

After receiving bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Wisconsin, serving in the army in Germany and spending several years as an Associated Press reporter, he joined the Palo Alto Times in 1961.

He was arts editor from 1964 until his death in 1979. In 1969 he spent a sabbatical on a professional journalism fellowship at Stanford learning more about the arts.

During his 15 years as arts editor, the page of movie advertisements and brief reviews of local performances expanded into a complete entertainment section covering film, graphic arts and popular music, as well as theater, classical music and dance.

Local seasons of theater, opera and music were introduced by stories in this section. He retained competent reviewers and added others who were, to the delight of the arts community, knowledgeable in their fields. The emphasis was always on excellence in the arts.

The community reacted to Emerson's death with a series of letters to the editor citing him as an "unbiased reviewer," "a leader in the promotion of the arts" and a "critic who cared about his community."

At his funeral mass, Adolph Baller, Edith Zitelli and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra performed. An all-Brahms program at Stanford Memorial Church featuring "A German Requiem" was dedicated to Emerson as was a subsequent Chamber Orchestra concert.

He is also remembered in the Paul Emerson Award established by the Council for the Arts, Palo Alto and Midpeninsula Area (CAPA). This award is presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the arts.

--Peter Gauvin
This is the 53rd in a series of profiles on the "Creators of the Legacy," 56 people who were honored last year by the Palo Alto Centennial for their roles in creating Palo Alto in all its aspects. 

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