Death of Robert Yarnall, Trustee

D. Robert Yarnall, Jr., the longtime trustee who led in business and civic affairs, died of heart failure on May 27 at the age of 74.

A graduate of Germantown Friends School, Mr. Yarnall studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University. He left college to volunteer for the American Field Service during World War II, driving a combat ambulance for the British Army and, after the war he returned to Cornell to complete his degree in 1948.

Joining Yarway, the family enterprise manufacturing high technology products for energy and process industries around the globe, he eventually became its president and then chairman. Two years ago he retired as chairman of Envirite Corporation, an environmental services firm dealing with hazardous industrial wastes.

Once considered for the position of managing director of the City of Philadelphia, he was a business and civic leader of great ability: director and deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia for two years, he also held directorships at Keystone International, PSFS/Meritor, Quaker Chemical Corporation, and SKF Industries. He was especially interested in international relations, founding the Greater Philadelphia International Network and serving on the World Affairs Council. He also served on the boards of the Cornell University Council, International House, Greater Philadelphia First Corporation, Greater Philadelphia Economic Development Corporation, Urban Affairs Partnership, Chestnut Hill Hospital, University City Science Center, WHYY television, the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowship, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He also found time to develop as a creative artist, exhibiting his photographs in several one-man shows.

At Penn, Mr. Yarnall was elected an overseer of SEAS in 1979 and a trustee of the University in 1981. As a trustee he served on the Academic Policy Committee, the Investment Board, the Executive Committee, and the University Responsibility Committee, which he chaired. He was also chair of the Advisory Board of the joint program between Penn and Shanghai Jao Tung University in China. He and his brother James Biddle Yarnall, a former Director of International Programs at Penn, were among the first to encourage an international dimension at Penn.

"One of his greatest legacies to this institution, and to the global community, is the D. Robert Yarnall International Scholarship Program," said a Trustees resolution to Mr. Yarnall last month. "Since 1989, there has been a steady procession of Yarnall Scholars, the latest hailing from Nigeria, Turkey, India, and Kenya. Students from around the world will continue to benefit from this fine resource and will long remember and be grateful to their generous benefactor."

Mr. Yarnall is survived by his wife of 16 years, Anne; three daughters with his late first wife, Rie: Joan Ma, Sara Sanders, and Kristina Sibinga; stepchildren Sarah Turell, Michael Gates, and Amy Gates; a brother; a sister; seven grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 1, July 13, 1999