David William Yaukey

AMHERST- David William Yaukey died Feb. 9, 2013, in the emergency room at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton, from complications following surgery.

David was born in Japan, the son of China missionaries Jesse Baer and Grace Sydenstricker Yaukey. His mother was an author of many books for young readers, writing under the name of Cornelia Spencer. She grew up in China and was the sister of Pearl S. Buck. His father left the ministry in 1935 and returned to work on U.S. public health, moving the family to Newton, Detroit, Mich., Pierre S.D., and finally to Bethesda Md.

David graduated from Oberlin College in 1949, taking one year off to serve in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. He then earned his master's degree and doctorate in sociology at (then) Washington State College and the University of Washington, respectively. His professional interest was in international demography, and particularly in the world population explosion.

That interest eventually took him and his family to a series of overseas residences. He met his wife Barbara in 1956 in Lebanon, where he was teaching at the American University of Beirut and she at the American Community School. They later lived in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Chile and Switzerland, finally returned to China in 1986 and 1987 on a Fullbright Lectureship.

His signal research accomplishment was to carry out a pioneering fertility survey in Lebanon in 1958, supported by the Population Council. This was a precursor for a series of such surveys in less-developed countries that encouraged and supported their family planning programs and shortened their population explosions. The report of this survey, written at the Office of Population Research, Princeton University, was the first of his three books. The last is a textbook in Demography, first published in 1986 and now (with co-authors) in its third edition.

He was a professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1964 to 1991, with leaves of absence for foreign assignments with the United Nations and others.

After early retirement, he pursued a variety of lifelong interests. He and Barbara built an architect-designed summer cottage in Nova Scotia. He sought dramatic training at the UMass theater department then acted in a series of seven college and community theater productions. He was an extra in two Hollywood films and portrayed the aged Leonardo Da Vinci in the television promotions for an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. He helped organize a home play reading group that has met monthly for more than a decade. A former taxi driver, he volunteered to deliver for various charities, Not Bread Alone, the Amherst Survival Center and Meals on Wheels. He joined Amherst Town Meeting then served on the Council on Aging. After auditing several Five College courses, he joined Five College Learning in Retirement for seminars, two of which he moderated. An atheist, he attended Unitarian Universalist services in Amherst and sometimes sang in its choir.

Not a natural athlete, he nevertheless enjoyed doubles tennis and was a lifelong sports fan. He and his sons were avid birdwatchers. Not comfortable in impersonal groups, he nevertheless had a wicked sense of humor that brought laughter to the Yaukey family and friends.

He is survived by his loving and much beloved wife of 56 years, Barbara; his sons Timothy and Peter and their wives Susan and Laurie; his sister Jean Yaukey Matlack; grandchildren Pierson and Liana, Laurie's children Austin and Christopher, Christopher's wife Mandy; and great-grandson Gideon.

He was preceded in death by his brother Raymond.

A Memorial Service will be held Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 121 North Pleasant St., Amherst.

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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 22, 2013