He made children laugh with the wacky toys he sold at his pint-sized store, John's Novelty shop.
He made certain that adults were part of the city decision-making process when he served on the city commission and during his two terms as mayor.
Lifelong Lawrence resident and former city leader John H. Emick, 82, died Friday at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor.
Friend and former city commissioner Nancy Hambleton called Mr. Emick "a steady hand at looking at the big picture in the business community."
"He represented the constituency that had a lot of confidence in him," she said.
Mr. Emick joined the Lawrence City Commission in 1965 and served until 1975. His terms as mayor came in 1968-1969 and 1972-1973.
He owned and operated John's Novelty Shop in downtown Lawrence from 1948 until 1982.
Born in Honolulu, Mr. Emick graduated from Lawrence schools and attended Kansas University. He was on the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce board of directors and was a president of the Lions Club and the Jaycees. He became a lifetime member of the Jaycees in 1961.
Former city commissioner Jack Rose served with Mr. Emick from 1971 to 1975.
"He was a very conscientious person and a very competent mayor and commissioner," Rose said. "He was pleasant to be around and had a good sense of humor."
Mr. Emick's interests while serving on the commission included the downtown beautification project and rebuilding a sense of community, Rose said.
"1971 was the first election after the riots of the 1960s," he said. "We spent a lot of time dealing with issues related to that."
When running for the city commission in 1973, Mr. Emick said he was "still interested in the organized growth of Lawrence."
"There are so many things that are not quite finished that I'd like to see finished," he said.
He married Eugenia Howard on March 19, 1935, in Leavenworth. She survives of the home.
Other survivors include two daughters, Janice Sanford, Republic, Mo., and Vicki Howell, Lawrence; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Services for Mr. Emick are pending and will be announced later by Warren-McElwain Mortuary.