Frederick William Yardley, a retired Springs School history teacher and administrator who was at the district for 29 years, had an “honest, caring approach to working with his students” that “gained him the reputation for being a standout educator, mentor, and friend,” his family wrote. He “was known to take a genuine interest in his students, discovering the potential in each young person — be it in the classroom or on the athletic field.”
Mr. Yardley died at home in East Hampton on Saturday, surrounded by family. He was 88 and had been ill for some time.
At Springs School, Mr. Yardley chaired the Committee on Special Education and was instrumental in developing the selective studies program, which allowed students to leave the classroom every Friday afternoon to participate in an area of interest. He was in charge of the cycling program, leading students “on afternoons of cycling through the beautiful scenery of Springs — along Gerard Drive, past George Sid Miller’s farmland, along the bay, and through the woods,” his family wrote.
During his tenure at Springs School, he came up with the idea of the osprey as the school mascot. He coached after-school sports and was also a kicking coach for the East Hampton High School football team.
Mr. Yardley was born at Southampton Hospital on Dec. 23, 1934, to Frederick Thomas Yardley and the former Ruth Fithian. He could trace his maternal ancestors back to East Hampton’s earliest settlers. He grew up on McGuirk Street in East Hampton Village with a younger brother, Robert, and a younger sister, Cathy. At East Hampton High School he was a talented athlete who played both baseball and football. He played tailback and cornerback for the school’s “undefeated, untied 1952 football eleven, the only such team in the football program’s 96 years,” his family wrote. The entire team was voted into the school’s inaugural hall of fame in 2012.
Mr. Yardley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from the State University at New Paltz, where he also played on the baseball team.
For 39 summers, he worked at East Hampton’s Main Beach, starting as a lifeguard at age 16 and later serving for a decade as beach manager. A “friendly, welcoming presence,” he also had high standards and “expected employees to be courteous, punctual, and professional.” Chris Tracey, a former lifeguard, told Mr. Yardley’s family about a time when he had come to work late two days in a row. “When he arrived on the second day, he ran into the ocean to wake himself up and realized Mr. Yardley was standing at the water’s edge,” his family wrote. “He apologized and said, ‘Just dock me the two days I was late, Mr. Yardley,’ “ to which Mr. Yardley responded, “ ‘Tracey, next time you come to work late, you’re fired.’ Chris was never late again and said he carried through life the work ethic learned under Mr. Yardley’s tutelage.”
It was while lifeguarding at Main Beach that Mr. Yardley met his future wife, Edna Lynne of Birmingham, England. He often told the story of how, when he started dating her, his father said there “was something special about her.” He agreed, and proposed at Christmastime. The couple showed off her ring while skating on Town Pond the next day. They were married on June 28, 1962.
Mr. Yardley served on the East Hampton Town Planning Board for 10 years and was later an East Hampton Town clerk. He was a charter member of the East Hampton Kiwanis Club and co-president of the Lost Tribe of Accabonac. Together with fellow teachers Bob Budd and Robert Streck he ran the Meadow Way Girls Club, a summer camp, for several years. He also taught swimming at the Maidstone Club.
“He was a perfect gentleman,” his children said. They described him as “generous, kind, and humble,” and said he was “a devoted husband as well as an attentive and supporting father and grandfather who always put family first above all else.”
An “avid reader of history,” he also collected old clocks and was “especially proud of them when they chimed all at the same time.” On Sundays, he never missed a New York Giants game. He was also a skilled ice skater who could often be found playing hockey on Hook Pond or Two Holes of Water in the winter. “You could always tell what season it was [by] whether there was a clam rake or a hockey stick in the back of his pickup truck,” his family said.
“Our father had a large network of friends and acquaintances and truly made a positive difference in his students’ and peoples’ lives in the community,” they wrote. “He loved living in East Hampton and would make daily trips up to the Main Beach ‘to check out the waves’ and later to see sunsets at Northwest Harbor.”
Mr. Yardley’s wife died in 2016. He is survived by his children Matthew Yardley, Lynne Brown, and Erica Yardley, all of East Hampton, by three grandchildren, and by a sister, Cathy Flanner of West Palm Beach, Fla. His son Frederick Philip Yardley died before him, as did his brother, Robert Yardley.
Mr. Yardley was cremated. The family received visitors yesterday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. A funeral was to take place this morning at 11 at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton.
Memorial contributions have been suggested to East Hampton Meals on Wheels, 33 Newtown Lane, Suite 205, East Hampton 11937, or ehmealsonwheels.org, or to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978.