Who Was Dr Yerry?— October 8, 2009
Dr. Yerry practiced medicine out of an office at his home for 43 years. During his career, he developed a reputation as an expert diagnostician. He treated hundreds of patients and never succumbed to the impersonal time restrictions of modern medicine. He was also the personal doctor for several of Dutchess County’s most distinguished residents, including his close friend Laura Franklin Delano.
Dr. Yerry was a man of varied interests. He was an avid fisherman, photographer and outdoorsman. Dr. Yerry spent many summers of his youth and adulthood at a country home he and his father built in Shandaken. He collected wristwatches, antique pocketwatches, pocketknives, and camera equipment. Early in life, Dr. Yerry was a weightlifter and amateur boxer. He opened a gym in Rhinebeck, trained with boxing legend Cus D’Amato, and was a member of the Association of Ringside Physicians. He raced motorcycles and cars, and was a member of the American Motorcycle Association and American Association for Automotive Medicine. He was also a stereophile, amassing thousands of classical records.
Roger Alan Yerry was born in Poughkeepsie, New York on January 22, 1934. He was the son of George E. Yerry, Jr. and Hilda Walker Yerry, of Kingston, New York. His mother was the supervisor of nurses at the Kingston Infirmary. His father was a noted labor leader, who was considered the “father of urban renewal in Kingston” and was credited with helping to organize 27 different unions including the Hudson Valley District Council of Carpenters.
In the same vein, Dr. Yerry was a consummate carpenter and woodworker. He worked on the construction of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and countless other construction projects throughout the Hudson Valley. He was a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union 445, where he served as medical advisor. He also worked as a bodyguard for Jimmy Hoffa when the Teamster president spent time in upstate New York.
Dr. Yerry was educated at Kingston High School and received his bachelor’s degree in Zoology with honors in 1955 from Colgate University. From 1955-1959, he attended Albany Medical College and was the recipient of numerous academic accolades including the Lamb Prize, which was awarded to the three members of the graduating class who showed the most sympathetic and kindly understanding in dealing with patients assigned to them and who thereby most nearly approached the ideal in the doctor-patient relationship. He also finished first place academically each of his four years in medical school. He then served as an assistant instructor in medicine and as a research fellow in endocrinology and metabolism at Albany Medical College, publishing articles in several medical journals.
A member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical society and the Dutchess County Medical Society, Dr. Yerry made significant contributions to Northern Dutchess Hospital: co-founding the first Coronary Care Unit in the Hudson Valley, performing as Chief of the Medical Staff and Co-Director of the Department of Medicine, and serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for many years. He also served as the New York State Police surgeon.
But his true passion always remained with his patients and family. Dr. Yerry is survived by his devoted wife Donna, their three children, Sara, Adam and Eliza, and a sister, Joyce A. Laurie of Texas. He also has three children from a previous marriage, Andrew, Mark and Susan, and six grandchildren.
It was with great hesitance that Dr. Yerry retired from his medical practice late last year. In a letter to his patients, he expressed gratitude for the cherished friendships formed during his career. In response, his office was flooded with hundreds of letters from patients sharing well wishes. The last months of his life were spent in the comfort of his home, surrounded by family and friends.
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