Yale University

In Memoriam

William H. J. (Peter) Yerkes


June 25, 2017

Peter Yerkes
1964 graduation

Journalist, Director of Media Relations

Peter Yerkes, 74, of Summit, New Jersey passed away peacefully on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at his home surrounded by his family after a long fight with cancer.

Peter was born on February 9, 1943 in Wilmington, Delaware, the only child of William Yerkes and Helen Yerkes (née Townsend). A curious and aspiring young boy, he plotted escape from Wilmington, boarding the train at age 14 for St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire, graduating cum laude in 1960. He also graduated from Yale University in 1964. A passionate scholar, reader, and writer, he became editor-in-chief of The Yale Literary Magazine.

Peter Yerkes
in recent years

A love of politics and government led him to a career as a newspaper reporter at The News Tribune in Woodbridge, NJ; New Jersey State House correspondent for The New York Daily News, Trenton, NJ; and New Jersey State House Bureau Chief, columnist, and editorial writer for The Bergen Record, Hackensack, NJ.

During the most eventful ten final years of his career, he switched sides to manage the press as the Deputy Director of Media Relations for the highly visible Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. There he displayed a talent for internal communication, speechwriting, op-ed writing, and public relations counseling for the Chairman, Executive Director, and other executives. His biggest challenges were the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the crashes of TWA flight 800, Swissair flight 111, and Egypt Air flight 990, and the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.

Liberty and Peter

He was awarded the Port Authority Unit Citation for his work after the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. He was also presented the Big Apple Award from the Office of Media Relations for response to World Trade Center bombing, and the “Best of the Best” award from the Office of Media Relations.

Peter had a fascinating career that totally engaged him and brought out all his gifts. He was a charming, kind, elegant, literate man who was wise, honorable, and inspirational, and possessed a sense of humor that was comical and ironic. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Liberty Yerkes; daughter, Isabel Domiano; son, Harry Yerkes; and grandson, Milo Domiano.

Private burial services will be held in Wilmington, DE followed by a reception to honor his life at his residence in Summit, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Plan International USA, 155 Plan Way, Warwick, RI, 02886.