R. Jon Yunker
September 13, 1944 - April 9, 2019
Jon Yunker, a loving family man and devoted friend whose budget mastery and keen mind helped guide the administrations of several Oregon governors, died April 9, 2019 after a hard-fought battle with dementia.
Robert Jon Yunker, always known as Jon, was born in Portland Oregon September 13,1944 to Robert James and Betty Easton Yunker.
He lived in the Parkrose area of Portland until the age of nine when the family moved to the farm in West Union near Hillsboro. Jon’s strong work ethic was honed as a young boy when he worked on the farm of his grandparents, Pete and Ardis Yunker. His tasks included raising pigs and turkeys for market, as well as baling hay, cleaning chicken houses, and picking berries and beans. He attended West Union Elementary School and graduated from Hillsboro Union High School in 1962. He then completed a degree in Business from Oregon State University in 1966.
Jon started his public service career shortly after graduating from Oregon State University, beginning with the State Personnel Division in 1967 when Tom McCall was governor. In 1970 Jon became a budget analyst for the Department of Budget and Management. During the administration of Gov. Vic Atiyeh, Jon was asked to serve as State Budget Director and continued in that capacity with Gov. Neil Goldschmidt. He left state government in 1991to1995 to become Director of Business Services for the Salem Keizer School District. When Gov. John Kitzhaber was elected to his first term, one of his first appointments was to tap Jon Yunker as Director of the Department of Administrative Services.
Upon retirement in 2000, Jon was appointed by Gov. Kitzhaber to serve on the Oregon Commission for Children and Families, a job that he fully embraced. He was also asked to serve on the board of Oregon Health Science University where he served as chairmen of the Finance and Audit Committee. Additionally, in retirement he taught classes at Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management, volunteered at McKay High School, and was an active member of the Salem First United Methodist Church.
For all his career successes, it was his personal life that mattered most to Jon. He attended elementary school with his beloved wife, Kathy Jossy. When they were both students at Hillsboro Union High School they started dating. They were married in 1964 while students at OSU and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2014. Their union produced three children, Peter, Matthew and Sara, and six grandchildren, whom he adored.
Among his favorite pastimes were golf, hiking throughout his treasured Oregon, and various sports. For years he played men’s slow pitch softball, as well as church league and lunch hour YMCA basketball. He also enjoyed coaching youth basketball. He was a lifetime OSU Beaver Believer and had season tickets to football games. In addition to athletic activities, he enjoyed cooking and passed that love onto his three children.
Jon is survived by his loving family: wife, Kathy and children; son Peter and wife, Kelly and their children Riley and Asa; son Matthew and wife Maggie and their daughters Ellinor and Carley; daughter, Sara and husband Jason LeRoy and their daughters Lauren and Madeline. His beloved sister Mary Jesse, several cousins, nieces and nephews, and many in-laws also survive him. Predeceasing him were his parents and grandparents Pete and Ardis Yunker and Paul and June Easton. He loved his family dearly and was very proud of his children and grandchildren.
A Memorial service and reception will be held for Jon on May 5, 2:00 p.m. at Zenith Vineyard, 5657 Zena Rd. NW, Salem. Memorial donations may be sent to Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center through OHSU Foundation, Family Building Blocks, or Serenity Hospice. Assisting the family is Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.
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