Propane industry loses technical, training pioneer Emerson Deese

September 1, 2023 By    

Industry veteran Emerson Deese died at the age of 88 in his longtime hometown of Cary, North Carolina.

Headshot: Emerson Deese


Deese was born on a small farm in rural Monroe, North Carolina, to parents who were both teachers and farmers.

He graduated from North Carolina State University in 1957 with a degree in the field crops division of the soils section. During college, he was an avid member of the Farmhouse Fraternity and remained active in the fraternity throughout his life.

With his educational background, Deese planned to take over the family farm upon graduation. However, due to certain government initiatives during the 1950s, he was not able to farm as planned and instead pursued a job as a specialist in NH3 liquid fertilizer with the North Carolina state government.

It was through that job that he was placed into a propane training class, which ultimately catapulted his career in the propane industry.

He became an inspector for the Department of Agriculture in North Carolina, the authority having jurisdiction for propane in the state. He oversaw the entire state’s propane industry and dealt with all aspects of distribution, storage and residential applications of propane.

In 1965, he was employed by Gas Equipment Co. as a sales representative and traveled across the Carolinas visiting propane dealers. By 1979, he became the eastern sales manager, managing Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

During his 50-plus-year career, first as an employee of Gas Equipment Co., and later as a consultant in the propane industry, Deese enjoyed traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people. He was best known by his colleagues and customers for being quick-witted and traveling in his car with the North Carolina license plate “Gas 1.”

Deese was a member of Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for more than 50 years.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Priscilla Morgan Deese, his two daughters and their husbands, five granddaughters and a great grandson.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Greenwood Forest Baptist Church or Transitions LifeCare in Cary.

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