NORMAL - Laurence J. Yeast, 312 Margaret Ave., Normal, died Monday (June 4, 2007) after a long battle with skin cancer. He would have been 92 on June 11. He died at home.
The son of Lannie and Lee Ann Yeast, he was raised on a farm near McLean with his brother, Leonard (deceased) and his sister, Lucille Miller, who served as Council-woman for Normal from 1985-2001.-;
He graduated from Bloomington High School in 1933.
Yeast was a highly respected resident of Bloomington-Normal. He lived a well-rounded life, encompassing his family, career, community and church and approached life with a "can-do" attitude and an ever-present sense of humor. He was probably best known for his labor union activities that spanned a 52-year period. He was a member and elected representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for 50 years. He served a term as vice president of the Association, and was chairman of the Legislative Education Committee for seven years. His leadership on behalf of securing optimum wages and working conditions for factory workers earned him the respect of both the union members he represented and the company officials with whom he negotiated. He was proud of the fact that none of the negotiations for which he was responsible ever resulted in a strike.
After retiring in 1979, Yeast became active in senior citizens legislative affairs at the local, state and national levels. He served on the national board of the National Council of Senior Citizens; was executive vice president and legislative chairman of the State Council of Seniors Organization and was secretary of Machinists Lodge No. 1000 Seniors Club.
He also served seven years as the state coordinator of Concerned Seniors for Better Government and three years as the state consultant to the Illinois State AFL-CIO COPE Retiree Program.
His civic activities included membership in the Association of Commerce; board of directors of the McLean County Chapter of the American Red Cross; the citizens committee which promoted the formation of the United Fund in McLean County; the McLean County Mental Health Society; the Citizens Advisory Council to the Bloomington Board of Education; and the advisory council of Illinois State University. He was also a member of the Rotary Club.
One of Yeast's proudest accomplishments was serving as head of the building committee for Calvary Baptist Church in Normal.
He was an avid student of history and an authority of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and amassed a large Civil War library.
Yeast devoted himself to the loving care of LaVerne Lettner Yeast, his wife of 67 years, who died of Alzheimer's disease in December 2004.
Yeast is survived by his sister, Lucille Miller of Normal; two daughters, Dawn C. Woods of Normal and A. Jeanine Cronin of Bedford, N.H.; four grandchildren, Rocky and Todd Woods; Erik Wallis; and Dana Cinar; and five great-grandchildren, Nicholas, Angela, Joshua, Peyton and Aaronson Woods.
The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at Calvary Baptist Church, 1017 N. School St., Normal. Visitation will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the church preceding the service. He will be buried at East Lawn Memorial Gardens in Bloomington. Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington, is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer's Association.