Richard “Chip” Yerkes, 75, of East Burke, Vt., succumbed to a two-decade battle with early onset dementia at sunset on Sept. 17, 2021, at Woodridge Nursing Home in Berlin. He died peacefully with family by his side.
Chip’s kind spirit and generous heart could be felt immediately in his presence, even in his last days. Before his illness, he lived a full and active life. He was passionate about the outdoors and managed to bike, swim, ski, run or canoe daily — no weather too poor, no job too important. It was more than enjoyable, rather a need. He connected with animals — swimming with seals off South Beach, assisting a stuck baby raccoon from up in a tree. He seemed one with nature. Chip found and could draw out beauty and humor in those around him. He was in awe of the interconnectedness of people and experiences. Always quick to lift you up with a compliment or a hoot of laughter, he could make you feel like the best storyteller or most beautiful person in town.
Chip was born Aug. 20, 1946, in West Chester, Pa. His parents, Richard and Marion Yerkes, met at the Westtown Friends School and raised their three children in the Quaker tradition which they practiced throughout their lives. Chip also attended Westtown School and, true to his Quaker upbringing, became an advocate for peace and kindness throughout his life. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war and performed his service as a medic for two years at NYU hospital in New York City.
In the winter of 1968, Chip moved with his parents and siblings to East Burke to undertake the monumental task of transforming the Darling Farm into the well-remembered Darion Inn (currently the Inn at Mountain View Farm). Chip wore many hats working as a carpenter, a bartender, a trail groomer and a host. It was at the Darion that Chip met and then married Doreen Herrity Yerkes, and they had two children together, Jamie and Julie.
In the early 1980s, Chip went on an extended adventure to Texas where he worked as a scuba diver and underwater welder on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. He competed in Ironman triathlons for fun and once attempted to windsurf from Texas to Florida to save on gas. Ultimately, Chip settled on the island of Martha’s Vineyard where he worked as a contractor and eventually purchased his own inn, the Johnathan Munroe House, on Main Street in Edgartown harbor. Chip loved walking his beat around Edgartown, and found great joy in being an innkeeper, entertaining guests from far and wide for over a decade until his illness started to take its toll.
Chip was a loving father, passing his love of the outdoors and ideals for peace and justice to his children, making the long trip from Martha’s Vineyard to Vermont to support their school, athletic, and social endeavors.
The Yerkes family would like to extend their gratitude to Chip’s many caregivers upon his return to Vermont: Mary Overman, Nick and Sarah Powers, the staff at Riverside Life Enrichment Center, the nurses and staff at Woodbridge Nursing Home, and Chip’s friends new and old.
Chip is survived by his sister Jo-Ann Golden and her husband Larry Golden of Lyndonville; the mother of his children Doreen Yerkes of East Burke; his son Jamie Yerkes and wife Polly Yerkes of Kirby; his daughter Julie Yerkes and husband Patrick Taylor of Concord, N.H.; his nephews Ricky Golden, Larry Golden and Chris Hibshman; his niece Carrie Hibshman Tomczyk; and his grandchildren, Ruby, Gus and Lila Yerkes, and Mika, Zadie and Meret Taylor.
He is predeceased by his father Richard “Dick” Yerkes, his mother Marion Harmer Yerkes, and his sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and John Hibshman.
A Quaker Memorial Service for friends and family will be held at 2 p.m. on Oct. 10 followed by a Celebration of Life from 4-6 p.m. at the Notch House on Lake Willoughby, 5768 VT RT 5A in Westmore.