June 27, 1927 – September 8, 2023
On Friday, September 8th, Carl Yettru, a beloved Kingswood volunteer and camper patriarch passed away peacefully surrounded by his cherished family and went Home where his life-long Faith had led him.
Born in 1927, Carl’s 96 years were well lived, full of grace, love and centered on faith, family and service. For over 50 years, Carl and his devoted wife Vivian of 68 years resided in Cornwall, NY where they raised sons Eric, Jon and Peter and attended Cornwall UMC. Carl was a pillar of the church and town raising his tenor voice in choir (and about community matters). For over 30 years, Carl taught English to junior high schoolers.
It was from Cornwall UMC where the Yettrus first learned of Kingswood. Carl and Viv came to camp with their three young sons in the family VW bus in the late 1960s. The story has been shared often that the bus never moved from where it was parked their first summer camping after they found that walking to the lake for swimming, boating and to the barn was possible and preferable.
After returning to camp for several summers, friends recommended the Yettrus become managers. Carl exemplified Kingswood’s volunteer service and ministry in so many ways. Years before there was a dedicated Program Director apart from the managers, Carl and Viv not only registered and welcomed campers, handled incoming reservations, managed store sales, and oversaw all site maintenance duties (including garbage runs!), but would also plan and lead nature hikes, campfires and worship services. They managed for 14 years and no doubt welcomed program directors and lifeguards who would take over some of the duties in later years. One task, though, tested the normally patient and unflappable Carl (as well as all managers, particularly pre-computers) – the dreaded “balancing of the books” report. The report was no small task and was complete with a tin lunchbox and numerous white envelopes for petty cash, ice, store money, ice cream money, registration fees, day visit fees, and more. Still, Carl always ended up smiling and grateful when the numbers equaled out.
When not at Kingswood to manage or work, Carl and Viv also returned as campers each summer, first with their sons and friends and then with their expanding family that eventually included five granddaughters. Camping at Kingswood, especially when the 3rd generation began, became a most treasured week for Carl; he delighted in spending this yearly tradition time with his family. Cassie Yettru shares, “My grandparents made it special every year and my cousins and I always looked forward to walking the Prayer Trail and Jungle Pass, swimming at the pond, playing in the barn, making crafts and so much more.” Of all her “countless wonderful memories,” Cassie’s favorite is playing Telephone around the campfire as everyone would be hysterically laughing in no time. “I’m so grateful to my grandparents for bringing our family to Kingswood every year and look forward to bringing my family there one day, too.”
Carl’s granddaughters Molly, Hayley, Cassie, Chloe and Abby have already discussed continuing their “Papa’s” legacy of family camp time next summer. From what they’ve shared, they’re eager to introduce Kingswood to the 4th generation, which already includes two great-grandsons and one great-granddaughter. Thanks to the guidance of Viv (their grandma!), they know that they must wait until after January 1st to make reservations for 2024!
Carl enjoyed making s’mores, singing songs around the campfire, worship services, and impromptu barn concerts singing tenor parts when he was there playing games or working on puzzles. And when Stone Ministry began, Carl loved making that program part of the family’s week’s activities.
In addition to managing, Carl and Vivian were members of the Kingswood Site Committee and regulars at the Set Up and Take Down weekends and inaugural Senior Weeks. Karen Taylor remembers Carl always being a calm presence during meetings with a dry sense of humor. “He would listen to what was being said and add a short sentence that was the essence of what was being said.” Jenn Taylor Paolella remembered Carl’s “love for people and nature was beautiful. He was a treasure to Kingswood and all the other volunteers there.” Indeed, Carl was known for his gentle nature, twinkling eyes and hearty laugh, witty remarks, grateful attitude and his warmth in welcoming all. People were always at ease around Carl. He’d welcome all new volunteers with his smile and conversation and have even the most nervous first timers feeling as though they had always belonged.
During his funeral service held on September 13th at New Paltz UMC, the minister, Carl’s sons and others shared stories of Carl’s legacy of love and how he put his love and faith into action and adventure: family trips across the country; family vacation weeks and volunteer times at Kingswood; and volunteering as an EMT and “aspiring carpenter” for Newburgh Habitat for Humanity and mission trips to Bolivia and Mississippi.
All who knew and saw Carl Yettru live his life knew him to be a Christian by his love. Carl Yettru’s legacy of love, faith, family, friends and service will be long remembered by all those he touched at Kingswood and everywhere else as he lived this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:6 “Walk by faith, not by sight.”
Thank you, Carl — you will be missed.
Written by Geri Mariano and Cassie Yettru