Earl P. Yates
H.D Oliver Funeral Apartments
2002 Laskin Road
Virginia Beach, VA
Rear Admiral Earl Preston "Buddy" Yates, the first commanding officer of the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), died on September 13, 2021, at the age of 97 at his long-time home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. At age 19, Yates was the youngest ever to graduate from the United States Naval Academy. He obtained his commission in time to serve in combat as a gunnery officer aboard the destroyer USS Dyson in the Pacific during World War II. Toward the end of the war, he began flight training and over the course of his career flew virtually every aircraft in the Navy. As Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron VF-41, and CO of Heavy Attack Squadron VAH-9, Buddy was among the first jet pilots to make nighttime carrier landings. He knew and flew with Chuck Yeager. He earned a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering at MIT. He served twice as Aide to the Secretary of the Navy. His other commands are too many to list, but rising to the top are Carrier Air Group 8 aboard the USS Forrestal, amphibious ship LPD-1 USS Raleigh, NAS Whidbey Island, and Director of Plans for CINCPAC during the Vietnam war. While he loved every command, the highlight of his career was as first Skipper of the USS John F Kennedy (CV-67). His devotion to the ship and its crew has never wavered, including her successor CVN-79 USS John F. Kennedy. He was born December 23, 1923, in Winston-Salem, N.C. He graduated from Reynolds High School at the age of 15, where he maintained a perfect attendance record, played sports and was active in the theater. Too young for an appointment to the Naval Academy, he enrolled at the University of North Carolina, until, reaching the age of 16 he realized his dream of becoming a midshipman. His Class of '44 had an early graduation due to WWII, so at the age of 19, he graduated from the Academy. He then married his sweetheart Lucy Anne Welch of Annapolis, and went off to war. Buddy loved the sea. In retirement, he and Lucy moved back to their Virginia Beach house. They spent many wonderful winters on their boat, the Puka Kai, sailing to the Bahamas, where Buddy kept fit spearfishing for dinner. Buddy was committed to his family, being married for over six decades, and raising, educating, and loving his and Lucy's five children. Buddy had friends. Lots of them. His phone was always ringing. His house was always full of guests. During his Naval career and beyond, his best friends were his Naval Academy classmates, but his circle extended far beyond that, young and old. He kept up with his 1930's high school gang, "the Hunks", and he and Lucy would gather with them (and "the Hunkettes") regularly. In retirement, Buddy and Lucy were also part of a large coterie of friends from across the US who shared the same Bahamian anchorages winter after winter. He reached out to the Vietnamese immigrant community and made many friends there, an interest that was inspired by his service in Saigon. Buddy had endless interests, stamina and drive. He was a gardener, he could play the guitar, he could fix any household appliance or plumbing problem, he could paint portraits and landscapes, he was a carpenter, he was a masterful writer…on and on with his talents. He worked incredibly hard and was extremely demanding, but he was also charming and funny and knew how to have a good time. He told amazing, highly entertaining stories about his numerous brushes with death as a naval aviator. And he was well-known for making a killer rum goody and expertly plated smiley-face breakfasts with two sunny-side up eggs and curved bacon. Buddy was lucky. And he knew it. When Lucy died, Buddy designed a headstone for their gravesite at the Naval Academy Cemetery on a grassy hill overlooking the Severn River. Other headstones on the hill list accomplishments and commands of distinguished naval careers. Buddy and Lucy's headstone, by contrast, is utilitarian: a simple but comfortable bench. On one side of the bench base is engraved Lucy's name and a beautiful tribute. On the other side is his name and one word: "Lucky." Buddy was predeceased by his loving wife of 63 years, Lucy, and their eldest son, Eric. He is survived by his four children: Susan Stephenson (Russ), Philip Yates (Vicki), George Yates, and Abbey Yates; his beloved companion, Ute Philipp; his older sister, Betty Dize; ten grandchildren: Anne Huitt (Parker), Emily Bing (Hardt), Kelly Yates, Preston Yates, Betsy Yates, Cole Rawson, Rachel Yates, Lucy Yates, Lindsey Yates, Harriet Stephenson, Lee Stephenson (Eliza); seven great-grandchildren. He also had a very special love for his devoted first cousin, Dr. Walter Holton (Barbara). The family would like to acknowledge Dr. Joseph Kennedy and the staff of the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, who provided exemplary medical care to Buddy for many decades. The family will receive friends from 4 to 6 pm on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts., Laskin Road Chapel. A funeral service will be held at 10:30 am on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at the US Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland. Masks required. Burial will follow with full military honors in the US Naval Academy Cemetery. Reception to follow at the Naval Academy Officers' Club. Vaccination proof required. In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to the Navy League of The United States, Hampton Roads, 600 Lynnhaven Parkway, Suite 202, Virginia Beach, VA 23452, www.navyleaguehamptonroads.org, for the upcoming commissioning of the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) or to the Association of Naval Aviation, 1750 Radford Blvd., Suite D, NAS Pensacola, FL 32508, www.anahg.org Online condolences may be made to the family at hdoliver.com
Published by The Capital Gazette on Sep. 16, 2021.
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Funeral service
US Naval Academy Chapel
Annapolis, MD
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H.D Oliver Funeral Apartments
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We were all on Whidbey Island together in the early "70´s"... my mom and dad had a great time with your parents...those aviators loved to get together and chat.. even though they used there hand a lot!! . It was life changing when your dad had to let us know that my dad was MIA .. 1/08/71... your father was very gracious delivering the news... And our family is grateful for that... RIP our aviator fathers... words can´t express !!
Anita Curry Dowding
September 28, 2021
I offer condolences to the Yates family on behalf of the hard working volunteers of the Rhode island Aviation Hall of Fame, who worked very hard for many years to preserve USS JFK (CV-67) and bring her to Narragansett Bay as a museum and memorial. Admiral Yates supported this effort every step of the way, and was an inspiration to us all.
Frank Lennon
September 22, 2021
Admiral Yates it was an honor and privilege to have met you sir. The brief time that I had to talk with you I will cherish. The standards that you set for USS John F Kennedy CV67 were still being followerand met during my time onboard 1987-1991. You were truly a living legend. Fair Winds and foll9wing seas Admiral Yates. MM3 Anthony Dickerson USS John F Kennedy CV67 1987-1991
Anthony Dickerson
September 20, 2021
Rear Admiral Earl P. "Buddy" Yates, Jr., was the PCO, and first CO of USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CVA (later CV) 67), BUT, he was more than that. On JFK, we called him OUR LIVING LEGEND, and he was one of those rare individuals who really deserved to be called that, and deserved all the love and respect he got, and then some. He set a standard on JFK-67, that all of us who came afterwards did our best to live up to, and maintain, and the ship's history and legacy reflect that. It's a standard, that now continues on USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CVN 79), which is currently under construction, commanded by it's first CO, it's PCO - Captain Todd Marzano. Buddy Yates will always be a part of the legacy, and history of ships named for President John F. Kennedy. RIP, Sir! TCAMGB. V/R, Bob Haner, President, USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CVA/CV 67 and CVN 79) Association
Bob Haner
September 18, 2021
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Remembering you and your loved one today and always. And Admiral...thank you for allowing this country boy to be a part of something so special and unique...our ship...CVA-67...Salute...fair winds and following seas...!!!
Kelley AO3 - G Division
September 18, 2021
Rest in Peace, Sir. Best Commanding Officer I ever served under. Outstanding commander and Captain of the USS John F. Kennedy (CVA-67). Fair winds and following seas, Sir. Rest easy in CHRIST; we have the watch!!!
September 18, 2021
I live in the Northend neighborhood for forty years just a stones throw from Admiral Yates and admired him. My sympathy to the family and friends. May he rest in eternal peace.
Bernie Kirsch
September 16, 2021
A great man, RIP Admiral !!
James A Paczkowski (RMC_Ret)
September 16, 2021
Our deepest sympathetic Condolences to the Yates Family and friends he was our Skipper and very well respected
Jack Erwin
September 16, 2021
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