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Michael W. "Mike" Yorke Jr.

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Michael W. "Mike" Yorke Jr. Obituary
Michael Whitley "Mike" Yorke, Jr.


Michael Whitley "Mike" Yorke, Jr., 75, passed away on the morning of Saturday, February 24, 2018 at Duke Hospital in Durham, NC following a brave and courageous battle with cancer. A Memorial/Remembrance Service in his honor will be held on Sunday, March 18, 2018 from 3:00 - 5:00pm at Ironwood Country Club in Greenville, NC. A graveside gathering will be held on Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 2:00pm at Westwood Cemetery in Carrboro, NC.

Mike was born and raised in Kannapolis, NC, the first son of Michael "Mike" and Nancy Yorke. He was a member of Kimball Memorial Lutheran Church and a graduate of A.L. Brown High School and East Carolina College.

Mike and his wife, Jean, shared a wonderful love story spanning nearly 60 years. They met in the spring of 1961 at Nags Head during Pirates' Jamboree weekend; both were freshmen at East Carolina College. That night, Mike announced to friends that he had met the girl he was going to marry! A year and a half later on September 2, 1962, Mike did exactly what he said — he married Jean Rogers. Two years later, they had a daughter, Kathryn Elizabeth.

They were both students at that time and worked many long, difficult hours to ensure they both graduated. During his senior year, while being a devoted husband and father, Mike was statistician for the ECC baseball team, under coach Earl Smith. He was also on the ECC Men's Judiciary Council and wrote a sports column for the ECC paper entitled, Scabbard Scrapings. Mike often said he conjugated French verbs from a book he held on the handle of Kathryn's stroller as he pushed her to day care. After graduation they moved to Charlotte and Mike started his lengthy career as an industrial salesman. He worked for The Stanley Works and later Emhart Corporation, traveling the southeast U.S. until his retirement.

Mike served on the Advancement Council of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University. He was a member of the East Carolina Alumni Association Board of Directors and the East Carolina University Board of Visitors. Mike was a charter member of The Thomas Wolfe Society, joining The Society in its first year of existence, 1980. He covered the membership dues for the Joyner Library at East Carolina University from 1993-2006 and secured a lifetime membership for the Library in 2007. In addition to his literary interests, Mike was also a NAUI-Certified Advanced Scuba Diver.

Mike had personally known Leo W. Jenkins, former ECC president, and supported his foresight and fortitude to fight for the school's growth, the hospital and the nursing school. He supported all of Dr. Jenkins' dreams and was thrilled to see them become reality.

Over the years, Mike was a loyal supporter of ECU athletics. A long time member of the Pirate Club, he was one of the original Plank Owners back in the '70s, an instrumental group in the early days of the Pirate Club. Mike served as President of the Pitt County Pirate Club Chapter and became a Life Member of the East Carolina Alumni Association and the Pirate Club. He was also a member of the Loyal Order of the Crow, an informal group of avid ECU fans that could be found at the Crow's Nest Restaurant every Friday at lunchtime discussing world affairs and ECU.

Mike lobbied long and diligently, along with a small group of passionate Pirates, for the resurrection of the Skull and Crossbones logo at ECU. He organized stadium fly-overs with the Skull and Crossbones banner during home football games, as a reminder of what was missing at ECU. Mike and Mark Hatcher worked endless hours for the Skull and Crossbones resurrection. Finally, with the help and support of Chancellor Muse and other loyal fans, this became a reality in 2003. Approval was given for a flagpole's installation on the sideline, so the Jolly Roger Battle Flag could be hoisted before home football games. With the financial support of Mike, Mark and 56 fans, a 35-ft. flagpole was purchased. In 2003, just prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff for the Pirates' nationally televised game against Houston, Mark, Mike and Mike's grandchildren, Michael and Christian, hoisted the flag for the first time. It has now become a pre-game tradition to hoist the Jolly Roger Battle Flag as players exit the tunnel onto the field.

Mike was also instrumental in the development of crossbones.com, which became Boneyard Banter. His knowledge and opinions were well known and respected on ECU message boards under his handle, "Scabbard."

Mike's kindness and ability to befriend others was an attribute that led to his being, not only loved by many, but also an ambassador for ECU on a daily basis. He touched many far and wide. Mike lived daily by the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, and his moral compass never failed him. He was a loving, kind and loyal husband, and Jean loved him dearly. He was the gift of a lifetime to her.

Mike is survived by his wife of 55 years, Jean Rogers Yorke; a daughter, Kathryn Elizabeth Yorke; two grandchildren, John Michael Welborn and Christian Elizabeth Welborn; a sister, Jewell Ann Yorke; a brother-in-law, William D. (Bill) Rogers and wife, Suzanne; nieces, Anna and Maggie; nephews, Brian and Nicholas; first cousins, Francis McCombs, Bob Phillips and wife, Gail; and many second cousins.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Michael "Mike" Yorke, Sr. and wife, Nancy; a brother, Philip Long Yorke; three wonderful aunts, Myrtle Long, Angie Long Yost and husband, Rob; Mary Belle Long Phillips and husband, Fred; and his mother-in-law, Berta Dillehay Rogers and father-in-law, G. Hughie Rogers.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorial contributions in honor of Michael W. Yorke, Jr. be made to the .

Arrangements by Wilkerson Funeral Home & Crematory.

Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com
Published in The News & Observer from Mar. 13 to Mar. 14, 2018
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