This story was published by The Ypsilanti Daily Press on Saturday, May 10, 1919.
Mrs. Nellie D. Yerkes, died this morning, May 10, 1919, at her home in this city, after an illness of a month. She had been in failing health since an operation on her eyes last fall, but the acute illness came suddenly and was sever.
Nellie Dunham was born in St. Charles, Ill., April 5, 1849, and spent her girlhood in that city. In 1869 she was married to Stephen Yerkes of Northville, Mich., and a resided in that village until the death of Mr. Yerkes in 1881. After a years residence in Chicago, she came to Ypsilanti to join her mother, the late Mrs. E. B. Dunham, and for 37 years has lived in the pleasant home on North Huron Street, which has been a center of helpful and constructive activities for all these years.
Mrs. Yerkes was a woman of rare gifts and charming personality. She had keen powers of observation and analysis, of seizing upon the essentials and of presenting information or conclusions vividly and clearly. Her wide range of knowledge and exceptional memory, her reliable judgment and remarkable executive ability were given freely to the many organizations in which she took a deep and active interest.
She was especially devoted to the Presbyterian Church. For years she taught a large class of boys in the Sunday school and acted as substitute organist; but her chief work was the Foreign Missionary societies. She was acting corresponding secretary of the Synodical W. F. M. S, of the state organization, which was founded in Ypsilanti; and was recording secretary, for 15 years corresponding secretary, and for two years president of the Detroit Presbytery Society, besides often acting as its delegate to the meetings of the Presbyterian Board of the Northwest.
She was one of the band of earnest women that organized and for years maintained the Ypsilanti City Y. W. C. A. and was the Association president. She was also an officer in the Sappho Club at one time a large factor in the musical life of the city. She had heard most of the great artists and her musical judgment was keen and cultivated.
She was a power in the Ladies Literary Club for many years, serving it in many capacities, including that of president, and its representative, was one of the early presidents of the City Federation of Women’s Clubs. Her originality as a writer, supplemented by her experiences in wide travel at home and abroad, her progressiveness and excellent judgment, made her a valuable force in the Club. At her death, she was a member of the Club house board of trustees.
Of distinguished Revolutionary ancestry, Mrs. Yerkes took great interest in the Daughters of the American Revolution and was at one time Regent of the Ypsilanti Chapter. Her patriotism also found expression in Red Cross and other work during the recent war and she gave liberally of time and money to these causes. It was a source of pride to her that of the young men whome she had aided to secure an education by taking them into her home, six did valiant service for their country in France or on the sea; one, Clarence Ponton, who had been as a son to her, having won the Croix de Guerre.
Yerkes was a firm believer in Equal Suffrage and in the tents of the Republican Party, and was widely read on matters of public interest and the events of the day. She was young and progressive I spirit and an inspiration and a welcome friend to young people always.
She leaves few near relatives—her sister, Mrs. J. D. Crosby and nephew, Roy Crosby of Cass City; her niece, Mrs. Fred C. Ballard of North Branch—but the number of her friends is legion and her loss will be widely and sincerely mourned.
The funeral will be held at the residence, Monday afternoon at 2:30, Rev. Dr. J. D. Finlayson, assisted by Rev. Dr. A. F. Bruske, conducting services. Interment will be in Highland cemetery.