Carl Yunker age 97, lifelong farmer and founder of what was to become CY Farms passed away peacefully at his home in Elba on March 13, 2021. He was born to Louisa Yunker on August 28, 1923 at the family farmhouse in Sheldon, NY.
He was raised by his mother and two older brothers Alfred and Otto; they ran the small family farm with a pair of horses: Tig & Dolly. He was schooled in a one-room schoolhouse until the sixth grade and attended high school in East Aurora. It was his high school ag teacher that convinced him to go to college.
Entering Cornell’s College of Agriculture class of 1944 at the age of 17, he worked his way through college studying agriculture, building P-47s at the Buffalo Curtiss plant, and received awards for marksmanship as a member of ROTC. He joined Alpha Zeta the honor agriculture fraternity where he met classmates in the field of agriculture that would become lifelong friends.
Following Cornell he returned to operate the family’s farm while his older brother traveled west for three years. It was during this time that he met the minister’s daughter at church and he and Bernice where married December 7th, 1947. Their honeymoon drive to Key West, Fla., was the first of their many travels together that included trips to Europe, the Middle East and China.
In 1950 Carl turned to his fraternity brother and college roommate Harris Wilcox to help him find a farm; his brother Otto had returned home and Carl needed to move out on his own. In the winter of 1951 Carl and Bernice moved their two young children, one tractor and a handful of cows to the Merriman Farm in Elba where they resided for the past 70 years.
Carl was known for his progressive farming and was active in both farm and community affairs. He was a past President of Genesee County Farm Bureau, Treasurer of Upstate Milk Cooperative and was named the Outstanding Young Farmer of New York State by the Jaycees. Upon his retirement from daily farming activity, Carl volunteered at Pine Hill Airport with the Vintage Aircraft Group and built his Kitfox 1200 airplane (tail # N123CY) and took flying lessons.
As a lifelong Republican, he was friends with Barber Conable and helped him win his very first election. He along with Bernice were active in the campaign to establish Genesee Community College and he served on the Genesee Valley BOCES Board. Elba Presbyterian Church was an important part of his life where he served on the Session 18 years of their 70-year membership.
It has been said; “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Our family watched with pride as dad planted trees well into his 90s.
Carl Yunker was predeceased by brothers Alfred and Otto and sisters Emma Moore and Hilda Burch of Modesto, Calif.
He is survived by his wife of 74 years Bernice Beisheim Yunker; children Gail (Bruce) Bartlett, of Baja California Sur, Mexico, Craig (Kimberly) Yunker, of Elba, Cyrus Yunker, of Virginia, Joy (Mark) Mistur, of Ohio, Heidi Yunker Dorpfeld, of Medina, 16 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.
There are no prior visiting hours. Private graveside services will be held at the convenience of the family at Springvale Cemetery, Elba. A public memorial service will be held this summer at the Elba Presbyterian Church, 23 N. Main St., Elba.
Memorials can be made to the Elba Presbyterian Church, HomeCare and Hospice of Genesee County, or the Yunker Family Fund for Excellence, Cornell University #0002768, Ithaca, NY 14850. To leave a condolence, share a story or light a candle in Carl’s name, please visit www.bataviafuneralhomes.com.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the H.E. Turner & Co. Funeral Home, 403 E. Main St., Batavia.