Walter Myron Yeager: 1930-2019

May 29, 2019

Walter Yeager, 89, died on February 18, 2019. He was born in Spokane, Washington, on March 11, 1930, to Eileen (Funk) Yeager and Myron Chapman Yeager.

The Great Depression economy pressure required that he spend time on his grandfather Robert Funk’s ranch in the Tobacco Root Mountains east of Sheridan, Montana. It was followed by the WWII economy that provided him work after school and full-time summer employment in Spokane.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara Althea (Ferree) Yeager; daughter Rachel Annette Bush (Blair Walter Bush); granddaughter Madison Blair Calloway (Charles Calloway); and grandson Clayton Walter Bush.

Additional survivors are brother Lowell Chapman Yeager (Nancy Yeager); nieces Amy Lee, Holly (David Rowe); and nephew Jonathan Yeager.

Walter joined the U.S. Navy Air Force Reserve in 1949 and served 10 years of reserve duty at the Geiger and Sandpoint Navel Weather Air Stations. He earned a BA degree in Education from EWU, and MA degree in history from WSU.

In 1952, he married Barbara Ferree and began teaching in the Spokane School District. In 1955 they moved to Edmonds, where he was hired by the Edmonds School District – there, he enjoyed a long but interrupted career.

His atypical career was made possible by receipt of a series of scholarships and grants for study in graduate-level university programs. Summer of 1961, he received a Learned Societies scholarship that provided for study at the University of Washington; East-West Center scholarship at the University of Hawaii the summer of 1963; and a British Universities scholarship at Edinburgh University was granted for the next summer.

In the fall of 1964 he received a Teacher Interchange Program Scholarship (involving U.S., Japanese and Korean teachers) for Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii’s East West Center and in Japan. His participation was assisted by receipt of a sabbatical leave from the Edmonds School District.

The Teacher Interchange Program lasted through the 1964 and 1965 academic year and continued during the summer of 1965. A Coe Fellowship at Stanford University followed the next summer.

In 1967, Teachers College, Columbia University, hired Walter to be a member of its Faculty of Education Team at Kabul University of Afghanistan. The Columbia University Teams carried out a U.S. Agency for International Development’s Cold War program designed to frustrate Soviet Union attempts to dominate Afghan education.

At Kabul University’s Faculty of Education, he helped develop its History/Social Science Department. His wife Barbara taught Braille at the country’s only school for the blind, and their daughter Rachel attended the International School in Kabul.

On his return to Edmonds, Walter was hired as a Resource Liaison Officer at the University of Washington’s South Asia Center. His duties included cooperation and participation in the College of Education’s program of study for area teachers in both Delhi and Islamabad Universities. Walter rejoined employment with Edmonds School District in 1974.

As a young Edmonds teacher, Walter served in the Seattle School District’s Adult Evening Program as a teacher of Naturalization (then a class that was a requirement for immigrants seeking to become citizens). Night school program also included teaching U.S. History to adult students.

The Seattle program developed into its Community College Program. After returning from Afghanistan, Walter also taught in several of the area’s evening Community College Programs. In the late 1990s, Walter retired from the Edmonds School District.

Although much of his life was devoted to academic study and teaching, he pursued a variety of other interests. After 1946, when Yellowstone Park reopened after World Was II, he worked four summers at the Old Faithful Camp. That experience allowed him to continue hiking, fly fishing, and exploring the New Deal’s CCC-built wilderness trails of his boyhood.

His years in Afghanistan and Central Asia provided a wider field of exploration that included visiting Buddhist monastic and Islamic sites, as well as ancient Greek ruins. An example occurred during his employment by Nature Expeditions Inc. to take teachers through Iran and Afghanistan during the summer of 1977.

That was just before revolutions occurred in both Iran an Afghanistan. He combined his work and study with an interest in photography.

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