John L. Yakush Sr.
John L. Yakush Sr., a longtime Skidmore plumber known for an impish sense of humor
and creative approach to solving plumbing dilemmas, died Sept. 29, 2007. He was 77.
Born Oct. 30, 1929, in Newark, N.J., John was the son of the late Joseph and Julia (Sliva) Yakush. He was a member of the Pipefitters Union Local 773, working with several local shops. In 1968 he joined Skidmore as a plumber/steamfitter in the Maintenance Department and retired as a plumber in 1994.
Robert P. Mahoney, professor emeritus of biology and former chair of the department, knew John well. Said Mahoney, “When I needed things done in the department, for example, a plumbing leak, John was just great.”
Mahoney continued, “John was especially helpful to me and Tom Lewis when we were working on our experimental methane project. During the pilot stage, we really had no idea what we needed in order to keep the project going. We often asked John for help on things, and he was so creative. We’d give him an idea, and he’d go over to the shop and come back with an interpretation of that idea. He’d say, ‘Do you think this will work?’, and it did.
“He was such a pleasant person,” Mahoney added. “We’d always tell each other outrageous jokes to see who could get the other to laugh more.”
John’s interests included hunting, fishing, attending polka dances, and spending time with his grandchildren. Jerry Grolley, former head of transportation, grounds, and housekeeping at the College, remembered John’s love of polka. “If there was a polka dance anywhere around Greenfield, John and his wife would be there,” said Grolley, who also recalled how much John enjoyed “sharing stories about growing up and living on Saratoga’s West Side.” Grolley added, “John was very dedicated to Skidmore. Everything had to be done right. He was a true friend and a real asset to the College.”
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Rose (Haviland) Yakush; children John Jr., (Cathleen), Carol Yakush, Marie Murray (Bill), and David (Audrey); eight grandsons; sister Anna; and brother-in-law John Izykowski. He was predeceased by his sister Mary Izykowski.
Burial took place at St. Peter’s Cemetery, West Avenue, Saratoga Springs.