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Emery Prickett

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Emery Lee Prickett was born August 23, 1948 in Torrance, Los Angeles County, California, to Leroy and Norma Prickett. He committed suicide on January 14, 1985 in Covina, California.

Emery lived much of his life in the Los Angeles area, California. He was a convert to the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church at age 18. Emery was married in 1971 in the Los Angeles Temple and he and his wife had three children. Later he divorced. Some time after his divorce, Emery was given custody of his three children, whom he raised with his partner Richard.

Emery became involved in Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons in Los Angeles in its early years. He held a variety of positions including assistant Los Angeles chapter director. He served as general coordinator of Affirmation (the equivalent to an executive director) in 1983-1984. He was very well liked by everyone and had an undeniably enthusiastic spirit. He and his partner Richard contributed much to the organization.

[The following tribute to Emery Prickett was written by Paul Mortensen , one of the early leaders of Affirmation.]

In the early years of Affirmation a brilliant and stellar comet streaked across the Affirmation sky. Like all comets it only stayed around for a very brief time, but it returned in a couple of years for another stellar fly over. Affirmation should forever be grateful for this wonderful and beautiful person who made a difference in our lives in his brief flyby. This comet was Emery Prickett.

In the beginning, Emery Prickett was the stereotypical Mormon. He went on a successful mission, he married in the temple and he and his beautiful wife promptly had three children. But something was missing in his life. He knew he belonged somewhere else and he was searching hard for it.

Emery discovered Affirmation in 1979 and his life promptly changed. He jumped into Affirmation with all fours. In that first year in Affirmation, he accomplished many firsts. His first big move was to march in the first gay pride parade and festival that any Affirmation chapter had ever been in. In July of 1979 he marched at the head of the Affirmation parade unit and also was responsible for putting a booth in the gay pride festival for the very first time.

His next achievement was stunning. He became acquainted with Leonard Matlovich at an outing the LA chapter had at the Russian River where Leonard was living. Some of you may remember Leonard Matlovich was the first person to take on the US Military for its ban on homosexuals and he was determined to take it all the way to the Supreme Court. In the process he got his picture on the cover of Time magazine in full military dress with the headline "I AM A HOMOSEXUAL". And he was also a Mormon at the time. Emery got Matlovich to come and speak at LA Affirmation. We sent out press releases, made flyers, rented an auditorium in West Hollywood and got 250 people to attend the Matlovich talk and it provided a wonderful showcase for Affirmation. Emery also hosted an incredible pool side reception for Matlovich at his beautiful home where his wife and oldest child were present. It was amazing.

Next, Emery was made assistant Chapter Director of Los Angeles and the first thing he did was go to Washington, D.C. to join the very first March on Washington for gay rights. He marched with 14 other gay Mormons from around the country under the banner of "Gay Mormons United", which was our name at the time. This, mind you, was a person who had just come out of the closet.

But his greatest achievement was yet to come. In December of 1979, Affirmation held its first ever leadership conference in Los Angeles that brought together the four existing chapters to establish a formal organization. Emery was largely responsible for putting this event together. At this first conference we changed the name of the organization. We wrote a national charter and by-laws. We formed a national organization and elected our first national executive director. Emery organized this event and bird-dogged it every step of the way. I believe this was the single most important event in Affirmation history and Emery was there every step of the way making sure it happened.

And shortly thereafter, Emery disappeared from the sky. He resigned from Affirmation to take time to get his life together regarding his family and relationship with the Church. And then what happened, two years later in 1983 this brilliant comet reappeared. When he came back, he had divorced his wife, amicable I might add, he had gotten his life resolved with the Church and had found a wonderful man that he had moved in with. His lover was Rich Talt who hosted wonderful Christmas parties LA chapter had at his home in San Dimas for many years.

Emery went right back to work in Affirmation where he left off. He was made leader of the LA family home evenings which we held nearly every week. It was a big job and he did it with gusto. But in a matter of a few months, he ran for National Director and won hands down. He was a tireless director and a major workaholic in the job. He made it his mission to give all the guidance and help to all the chapters that he could. (There were now nine chapters)

He called every chapter every month. He sent out a monthly Directors' newsletter and tried to visit all the chapters at least once. His single minded goal was to make sure that all these new chapters succeeded as well as Los Angeles had done.

Then, as suddenly as before, the comet left our heavens. Six months into his brilliant tenure as National Director he resigned. He told us that his personal business and finances were in a mess and he had to devote full time to them. Emery didn't do anything halfway and he wasn't going to do that to Affirmation. He needed to devote all his time to solve his business problems.

Eleven months later in January of 1985 we buried Emery. In his total effort to succeed completely at all he did, it took its toll. Emery took his own life. And before any of you jump to the conclusion that this was another suicide brought on by the Church; it was not. Emery had his life in order in that regard. He had fully come to terms with being a gay person in the Church. And he had fully come to terms with his God in that regard. No, unfortunately, Emery got overwhelmed by his business and financial problems and they took a toll that we will never understand.

There was no funeral. (Mormons don't seem to allow funerals in the case of suicide). But there was a beautiful graveside service. While it was conducted by a Mormon bishop, Affirmation was allowed to provide the music, give a short eulogy, and dedicate the grave. It was moving and emotional to the many Affirmation people in attendance.

My final comment is that a great and wonderful comet has left the sky, never to return. Emery is at last at peace. I shall never, never forget him. Affirmation should never, never forget him. The likes of Emery only comes along once in a great time. I believe that if he had stayed in Affirmation we would have a Prickett award instead of a Mortensen award. We were truly blessed by his short presence. My life was blessed by his presence, Affirmation was blessed. God bless you Emery. Rest in peace our dear friend and brother.

(This biographical sketch and tribute was written by Paul Mortensen for the Affirmation web site: http://www.affirmation.org/memorial/a_tribute_to_a_star.shtml. Reprinted by permission.)

Created: 9/28/2006 5:08:09 PM

Modified: 10/2/2006 7:05:20 PM

Biography: September 2006