PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Frank Emond, a Pearl Harbor survivor and the Guinness World Record holder for oldest musical conductor, died Tuesday in Pensacola at the age of 104.
“As I was growing up, he never talked about Pearl Harbor or any of those things,” Emond’s son Roy said. “He just never talked about it but then later in life, he found that other people wanted to hear that story.”
Roy said his father learned to play the French horn in high school. Emond went on to work at a mill where his father worked but after two years, he decided that job was not for him. He went back to his high school, borrowed a French horn, then went to Boston to audition for the Navy and was accepted into the Navy music program in 1938.
Emond was preparing to play his instrument for the flag raising ceremony on board the U.S.S. Pennsylvania when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. He talked to WKRG News 5 a few years ago about that moment.
“When that torpedo plane went by, the man in the rear cockpit was shooting at us with a machine gun,” he told WKRG News 5’s Drexel Gilbert. “If I close my eyes, I can see that just as if it was there now.”
He was a compelling storyteller not just through his words but music too. He went on to set the Guiness World Record for oldest conductor in 2022.
“This last November he was up in Washington D.C. conducting the Air Force band for a song,” Roy said.
Emond was a man of many talents. He liked to square dance and he was quite an artist which is something many people don’t know. He left behind beautiful drawings and paintings.
“He enjoyed that,” Roy said. “Not a lot of people knew he did that. That’s kinda something he did on the downlow.”
Roy’s thankful his dad lived a long fulfilling life and that he got to be there with him as he took his final breaths.
“The last thing I said to my dad was I love you,” Roy said. “And the last thing he said to me was I love you too.”