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Emerson Leo DeFord

December 11, 1928 ~ May 9, 2022 (age 93)

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Life Story

Emerson "Em" Leo DeFord, 93, of Elkhart, passed away peacefully and in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his family on Monday, May 9, 2022.

He was born on December 11, 1928, in Mishawaka to the late Russell DeFord and Ruth (Sheetz) DeFord. Emerson was a 1947 graduate of Jimtown High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and served during the Korean Conflict until his honorable discharge in 1952. He married Pauline O. Sanders on June 12, 1976.   Surviving is his wife of 46 years, five children; Steven (Melissa) DeFord, Mark (Tina) DeFord; Laura (Kevin) Koon, Sherry (Patrick) Lee and Christine Bertrem; 13 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren survive as well. In addition to his parents, a son Dean DeFord and brother William “Bill” Lester preceded him in death.

Emerson was a master craftsman in the flute manufacturing industry, a business leader, the founder of   The E.L. DeFord flute and piccolo Co. The Emerson Musical Instrument Co. & Custom Woodwinds Inc. He was well known as an advisor and consultant to the flute industry as well as an authority on flute design. Emerson designed many flutes for the handicapped players and is proud of his most recent flute design. 

He donated flutes to many talented area musicians. He was still working into his 90’s.

Emerson DeFord was a member of VFW, American Legion, DAV and the Moose. Emerson was a Free Mason and a Shriner. 

The family is grateful for the loving care provided by caregivers at Elara Caring and Grace Hospice of South Bend. They were a blessing, while everyday care was provided by his loving wife Pauline and their daughter Christine in the last year of life. 

Friends and family will gather from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, May 15, 2022, at Billings Funeral Home, 812 Baldwin St. Elkhart. The evening will conclude with a Masonic Service at 5:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held Monday, May 16, at 1:00 p.m., with visitation 1 hour prior also at Billings Funeral Home. Pastor Jeremy Sarber will officiate. Burial will follow at Prairie Street Cemetery, with military honors rendered by the U.S Army Funeral Honor Guard and DAV Chapter #19. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children, P.O. Box 947765, Atlanta, GA 30394, or Riley Children’s Foundation, 500 N. Meridian St., Suite 100, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

All are welcome after services Monday at the home of Mrs. Emerson DeFord. 

Condolences to the DeFord family may be made online at www.billingsfuneralhome.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Emerson Leo DeFord, please visit our floral store.


Services

Gathering of Family and Friends
Sunday
May 15, 2022

3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Billings Funeral Home
812 Baldwin Street
Elkhart, IN 46514

Masonic Service
Sunday
May 15, 2022

5:00 PM
Billings Funeral Home
812 Baldwin Street
Elkhart, IN 46514

Visitation
Monday
May 16, 2022

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Billings Funeral Home
812 Baldwin Street
Elkhart, IN 46514

Funeral Service
Monday
May 16, 2022

1:00 PM
Billings Funeral Home
812 Baldwin Street
Elkhart, IN 46514

Burial with Military Honors Immediately following
Monday
May 16, 2022

Prairie Street Cemetery
401 E. Hively Avenue
Elkhart, IN 46516

Donations

Shriners Hospitals for Children
P.O. Box 947765, Atlanta GA 30394
Tel: 1-844-739-0849
Email: donorrelations@shrinenet.org
Web: https://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/shc

Riley Children's Foundation
500 N. Meridian St., Suite 100, Indianapolis IN 46204
Tel: 1-317-634-4474
Web: http://www.rileykids.org

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