Wayne Heritage Yarnall

Date of Birth

April 5th, 1942

Date of Death

April 7th, 2014


Wayne Heritage Yarnall was born April 5, 1942 in McKeesport PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, to Naomi Heritage Yarnall and Wayne Brown Yarnall. His brother Bob (Robert Heritage Yarnall) was born three years later. His grandmother and his uncle, who had MS, also lived with the family when the boys were young.

As a boy, Wayne was always fiddling with gadgets, and not involved with sports. He built his first radio when he was 13 and when he was 15, heard the Russian satellite Sputnik on his radio. He became a Ham Radio operator at about the same time, a hobby he kept with him throughout his life. W7KRB loved hearing the voices of other Hams throughout the world.

The family attended Pittsburgh Quaker Meeting. There were many visits across Pennsylvania to Mullica Hill, New Jersey, where they visited his mother’s Heritage family and attended Mullica Hill Meeting. Wayne often spoke of family expeditions to Lake O’Mary named for his maternal grandmother.

Early in Wayne’s life the family started vacationing on the Jersey shore at Stone Harbor, buying one house and then another. Soon, Naomi and the boys were spending whole summers at the shore with Father coming down for the weekend. Wayne built lasting friendships which lasted into adulthood. He pumped gas at a Stone Harbor station as a summer job.

Wayne started the ninth grade at a junior high school in Pittsburgh. One day while at school, he was called to the office. His father was there to pick him up to take him home to pack. An opening had come up at George School, a Quaker High School in Newtown, PA, near Philadelphia. His grandmother Heritage had been in the first George School class and his Uncle Paul was also a graduate. Wayne was going to boarding school!

Wayne really enjoyed his years at George School. He was never an athlete but participated as team manager for several sports through the years. Wayne graduated from George School in 1960.

Autumn 1960 Wayne went to Duke University.  He graduated from Duke in 1964 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. The next year he went to Rutgers University for a Masters Degree in Bio-Medical Engineering. One of Wayne’s greatest disappointments in life was that he was never able to use this degree in a direct way.

Wayne started working for HRB Singer in the mid-1960’s. Almost immediately, he was sent to Shemya Island, an Aleutian Island, far west of mainland Alaska. He and the other civilians assigned to this military base lived upstairs in an Airplane hanger. When he arrived on Shemya he was able to carry his bags up the stairs. When he left a year later, he needed help getting them down. It took a few years to understand the reason for this.

March 1968 the crew stopped at Eilson Air Force Base, near Fairbanks, Alaska. There Wayne met Nancy McLauchlan who was the Elementary School Librarian on the base. Later that year, HRB Singer lost its contract for work in Alaska and Nancy and Wayne both traveled to State College, PA where Wayne was to work. They were married October 3, 1968.

Wayne was soon transferred to Reston, VA. They lived in Chantilly and Sterling, VA for about three years. During that time, Wayne seemed to weaken. He spent a week at the NIH Hospital in Maryland and was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.

Nancy and Wayne attended Goose Creek Meeting in Lincoln, VA. Wayne transferred his membership to Goose Creek Meeting from Seaview Meeting on the New Jersey shore.

December 1971, following his increasing interest in working with computers, Wayne was employed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in Maynard, MA. They rented a home in the town of Harvard, MA. Bruce Andrew Yarnall was born July 31, 1972 in Concord, MA.

April 1973, Wayne and the family moved to Tucson, AZ, with DEC where Wayne took two successive “Resident” jobs. He then transferred to the Bellevue, WA DEC office. He worked in that office for several years before forming his own company. Rebecca Marie Yarnall was born in Bellevue, WA, on March 20, 1975. The family attended and became members of Eastside Meeting in Bellevue, WA.

Wayne’s company, WHY Systems, developed and sold “Digicalc,” a spreadsheet which operated on the DEC machines. The company was successful until more affordable spreadsheets became available, and the product lost its usefulness. Wayne sold the company.

He interviewed with CH2M Hill an engineering firm and was asked if he would prefer to go to Boulder, CO or Corvallis, OR. He chose Oregon and the family moved to Corvallis in 1987.  The family joined Corvallis Friends Meeting and were active during their years there. Wayne was co-clerk of the Meeting at one point.

He had three good years with CH2M Hill but his Muscular Dystrophy had progressed, and he could no longer work full-time. He took disability in 1990. It was at this point that he started to use the wheelchair more and more. The family sold its first Corvallis home and moved to a more accessible one in the Fall of 1990.

From 1991-1996, Wayne took on the unpaid role of computer staff person for Friends Bulletin, the magazine of unprogrammed Quakers in the western United States. He brought the magazine into the computer age and was instrumental in getting the magazine’s 501c3 status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

During the Corvallis years, Wayne, W7KRB, was active with a local Ham Radio group, and participated in Field Day and other events. He also became more and more involved with handicapped advocacy issues.

Fall of 2004, Wayne and Nancy moved to a condo in Vancouver, WA, to be closer to Becky and Bruce who had both settled in Portland. During his Vancouver years, Wayne was involved with a Ham Radio Club and established his non-profit company ADA-Build-It-Right. He did inspections regarding handicapped access throughout the region. They both transferred their memberships to Bridge City Friends Meeting in Portland.

Wayne and Nancy divorced in 2007. Wayne continued to live in the condo and was often joined by his companion Sharon Ruiter. Wayne loved to dancing in his wheelchair and Sharon danced with him.

August 2012 Wayne moved to a Convalescent Care Home in Vancouver, WA. He’d suffered a heart attack and strokes and the Muscular Dystrophy was advancing. Wayne died April 7, 2014 in Vancouver, WA.

Wayne is survived by his brother, Robert Heritage Yarnall; daughter, Rebecca Marie Wright; son, Bruce Andrew Yarnall; daughter’s partner, Augustine Perez; daughter-in-law, Ingri Benson; grandchildren, Juniper Yarnall Benson, Nigel Yarnall Benson, Sparrow Yarnall Benson, and Sophie Wright; and several first cousins.