Obituary: David Yaukey, professor emeritus of Sociology
Born in Japan, he was the son of China missionaries. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1949, taking one year off to serve in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. He then earned his master’s degree and doctorate in sociology at Washington State College and the University of Washington, respectively. His professional interest was in international demography, and particularly in the world population explosion.
That interest eventually took him and his family to a series of overseas residences. He met his wife Barbara in 1956 in Lebanon, where he was teaching at the American University of Beirut and she at the American Community School. They later lived in East Pakistan, Chile and Switzerland, finally returned to China in 1986 and 1987 on a Fulbright lectureship.
His signal research accomplishment was to carry out a pioneering fertility survey in Lebanon in 1958, supported by the Population Council. This was a precursor for a series of such surveys in less-developed countries that encouraged and supported their family planning programs and shortened their population explosions. The report of this survey, written at the Office of Population Research, Princeton University, was the first of his three books. The last is a textbook in demography, first published in 1986 and now (with co-authors) in its third edition.
He joined the Sociology faculty in 1964 and taught for 26 years with leaves of absence for foreign assignments with the United Nations and others.
After early retirement, he pursued a variety of lifelong interests. He and Barbara built an architect-designed summer cottage in Nova Scotia. He sought dramatic training at the Theater Department, then acted in a series of seven college and community theater productions. He was an extra in two Hollywood films and portrayed the aged Leonardo Da Vinci in the television promotions for an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. A former taxi driver, he volunteered to deliver for various charities, Not Bread Alone, the Amherst Survival Center and Meals on Wheels. After auditing several Five College courses, he joined Five College Learning in Retirement for seminars, two of which he moderated.
He leaves his wife Barbara; his sons Timothy and Peter, a sister, four grandchildren and a great-grandson.