Saturday, Dec 15 2012 12:12 PM

James Frederick Yurk, 1933 - 2012

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James Yurk

James Frederick Yurk

1933 - 2012

James was born in Sheboygan, Wis., on July 27, 1933, to Frederick John Yurk and Elizabeth (Leng) Yurk who were delighted to welcome a boy into their family. Jim was an individual with many talents and abilities.

While at Sheboygan's Central High School, he was a member of the National Honor Society, Co-Captain of the Swim Team, and an Eagle Scout. He went on to the University of Wisconsin, where he majored in Chemical Engineering. On the first football week-end of their freshman year Jim met his future wife, Mardell "Mardy" Schultz. In his senior year he was interviewed by North American Aviation of Los Angeles.
He was the only undergrad to receive a job offer from them. The package arrived on a snowy day and it was accepted without hesitation. It was an exciting time to be in the budding aerospace industry. North American was developing the X-15 and the first astronauts were often on site. Jim's career advanced and took him to TRW, Redondo Beach where, after more than 25 years, he retired in 1989.

One of Jim's interests was ceramics. He took classes from such well known potters as F. Carleton Ball at University of Southern California. While a night student there two of his creations were selected for a Design West exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. This led to his "second career" in his retirement.

Jim and Mardy bought a lot in Bear Valley Springs before the roads were paved. They had a weekend retreat built in 1974, and were weekenders for many years until they retired to BVS in 1990. Jim had a studio and a kiln house. In the early 90's, he received the Arts Council of Kern Award for individual artist. Other awards came his way. For almost 30 years he made an annual donation of one of his works to the Bear Valley Springs Cultural Arts Association. He gave up playing classical guitar (not compatible with "throwing" clay) but continued his interest in gourmet food and wines, and perfected his bread making. Many wonderful trips were taken with his family in the motor home, many good books read, and so many do-it-yourself projects outside and inside. A very full life shared with those he leaves to mourn his loss.

Besides his wife, there are son, Peter Yurk of Rotterdam, N.Y.; daughter, Lisa and her husband, Jeffrey Blake of Lake Arrowhead; and sister, Kathy and her husband, David Vogt of Presque Isle, Wis. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Joan Krum, of St. Germain, Wis.

And greatly missing him is Bella, his Yellow Lab. He will be missed by many relatives and long time friends.

A memorial celebration of his life is planned for Friday, Dec. 28, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Oak Tree Country Club in Bear Valley Springs. Wood Family Funeral Service, Inc. is handling the services. For condolences please visit

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