2013-07-25 / Obituaries

Richard E. “Dick” Yeaw

Richard E. “Dick” Yeaw died peacefully surrounded by loved ones in his home on July 21, 2013, after a five-year battle with cancer.

Born June 16, 1931, in Providence, to the late Esther (Lomax) and Willis King Yeaw, Dick grew up in Cranston and graduated from Cranston High School in 1949. From there, he attended the University of Rhode Island where he studied business and accounting and met his first wife, Nancy. They moved to western Massachusetts and had four lovely children together, Meris, Rebecca, Melissa and Josh. Dick went back to school, getting his master’s in education from Westfield State and began teaching English and theater in high school, a career that would span two states and 27 years, and would be a continual source of joy for Dick.

Dick and his family of six moved to Jamestown in 1969, where he began teaching at Rogers High School in Newport, sharing his love of literature through teaching English and directing plays. He helped start the Jamestown Players and was a regular participant in Newport’s The Incredibly Far Off Broadway Ensemble Theater.

On Earth Day 1990, Dick met Linda Cooper, beginning a new life with his new partner. Together Dick and Linda ran Silver Sneaker Excursions, conducting hiking and skiing trips for elders around the world. In 2004 they sold the house and business, and took off in an RV for three years. Dick and Linda volunteered for those three years, working at the Montana Natural History Center, a fish hatchery in Oregon, and recovery work in New Orleans after Katrina. They traveled widely together, their most recent trip to Dick’s beloved Red Sox spring training and then a visit to Cuba in March 2013. Dick and Linda moved to Vermont in 2008, where they had both dreamed of living. Dick spent most of his life around the ocean and was happy to spend the last five years near the mountains.

Dick was a wonderful teacher, sharing his love of literature and theater daily, leaving a legacy of inspired students. “It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be doing my life’s work if it hadn’t been for Dick, who showed me the way,” said one of Dick’s former students, Michael Tick, Ph.D., who is the dean of fine arts at the University of Kentucky.

He looked upon teaching as a privilege, a daily opportunity to be with kids, to inspire them into opportunities to love reading, poetry, acting, speaking and arguing. He respected his students and felt that getting them to think was a wonderful responsibility. He was a humanist and an activist, a man of compassion. He was active physically, enjoying sailing in his earlier years and later hiking, canoeing, skiing, camping and being outdoors. He was an avid gardener and an excellent cook. He wrote poetry, self-publishing three books. He shared 22 wonderful, peaceful years with his loving wife, Linda.

He is predeceased by two siblings, Esther Silva and Willis Yeaw. He is survived by his wife Linda Cooper of Burlington, Vt.; children Meris Yeaw of Newport, Rebecca Yeaw of Wellfleet, Mass., Melissa Yeaw of Truro, Mass., and Josh Yeaw and wife Elaine of Warwick; and five grandchildren.

There will be two memorial ceremonies, one in Vermont and one in Rhode Island, dates to be announced. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to your favorite environmental organization in his name.

Return to top