At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Save our Monarchs Foundation
P.O. Box 390135
Minneapolis, MN 55439
Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile, an infectious laugh, and a heart that knew no bounds, Nancy Mildred Yerkes lived a life rich in wonder, beauty, and love. Nancy lived a joy-full life; she celebrated each moment as a gift and embraced each person as a friend. With a quick wit and undeniable charisma, Nancy could inspire even the most committed curmudgeon to belly laugh and notice the magic in the most ordinary of moments. A devoted daughter, mother, artist, and friend, Nancy inspired all who were blessed to know her. Though her days were far too few, her beautiful legacy will long live on in the hearts and lives of those who were blessed to know her.
1955 proved a year of vibrant growth with consumerism taking off in previously unimaginable ways. With the sale of nearly 7.9 million cars, for the first time in history, seven out of ten families in the U.S. owned an automobile, and new laws were created to require seat belts to be installed on all new cars. This was the year Ray Kroc built the first McDonald’s, and TV dinners appeared including the first fish fingers. Cans of Coca-Cola, Lego, Velcro, and The Mickey Mouse Club all made their debuts during this prosperous year, while Rock and Roll music continued to grow in popularity with more idols including Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry and The Platters. Locally, this time of hope and plenty grew especially bright as Donald Eugene and Joan Selma (Poe) Yerkes welcomed their daughter Nancy into their hearts and home on March 10th.
Nancy’s childhood was rooted in faith and family values. While her father worked as a high school mathematics teacher, her mother ran the home. Along with her older sister, Susan, Nancy enjoyed family vacations up north with their uncle, aunt, and cousin. She also enjoyed family vacations to Marco Island, Florida. From her earliest years, Nancy’s passion for the outdoors was evident in her love for catching butterflies and bugs. She also participated in gymnastics and went to camp every summer. She especially enjoyed the survival camps she participated in during her high school years. The Yerkes family were long-time members of Grosse Pointe United Methodist Church where they explored and celebrated their faith.
Nancy attended Monteith Elementary and Parcells Jr High School. In 1973, she graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School where she served as her class’s vice president. Following high school, Nancy attended Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids where she earned her degree in graphic design in 1977.
A gifted artist, for most of her life, Nancy worked from home as a self-employed graphic artist. She possessed an insatiable passion for the beauty all around her, and through her creations, she inspired a powerful sense of awe in all who witnessed her craft. Her keen eye and gentle spirit transformed the seemingly ordinary into the extraordinary, and the mundane into magic. From the very beginning of her career, Nancy had a gift for creating unique designs that not only met her clients’ expectations but often exceeded them in unimaginable ways. She believed in creative collaboration, which she successfully generated by genuinely listening to what people were saying. With an inherent ability to put others at ease, and a deep trust in her intuition and talent, Nancy generously afforded others a safe space to explore their visions and manifest their goals.
An active member of the Grand Rapids art community for over 40 years, Nancy loved rock and roll music and reading. She was an enthusiastic member of two book clubs where her free-spirited, creative, witty insights always left folks feeling lighter and more hopeful. Nancy had a wonderful way of bringing people together and celebrating the best in humanity. She embodied her faith in humanity and in so doing, was a powerful role model for others.
Life blessed Nancy with the gift of motherhood in 1985 when her son Calvin was born. As it is prone to do, motherhood afforded Nancy even greater insight into what is most important in life; nurturing relationships with others. Nancy loved being a mother, and when Calvin grew into adulthood, her joy grew even greater upon becoming a grandmother to her treasured grandchildren. Adaline and Atlas were her heart’s delight, and she cherished every moment they shared in each other's good company.
Without a doubt, it is difficult to imagine life in the absence of Nancy's love and laughter. May it afford deep comfort to know that the best of Nancy's beautiful legacy lives on in the lives and hearts of those she loved. With every moment we greet with wonder, creative endeavor we embrace, and laughter we share, we celebrate the many ways Nancy gifted the world. And, in so doing, we keep her bright spirit burning and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Nancy M. Yerkes passed away on a beautiful evening with the windows open on Friday, August 23, 2019, at the Rose Arbor Hospice Residence. She was born March 10, 1955, daughter of the late Donald and Joan Yerkes. She is survived by her son, Cal (Lindsay) Gage; grandchildren, Adaline and Atlas; sister, Susan Yerkes O’Leary; niece and nephew, Katy and Kevin and many cherished friends. Her green burial will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 30, 2019, at Ridgeview Memorial Gardens, 5151 8th Ave SW Grandville, MI 49418. Contributions in her memory may be made to www.saveourmonarchs.org. Nancy requests that all attend in their best and brightest attire.