ROBERT YEAGER OBITUARY
Robert Douglas Yeager (Bob), a giant in the field of Intellectual Property litigation, died peacefully on March 11, 2021 at age 84.
Mr. Yeager was born in Perth Amboy, NJ on December 18, 1936 to Kathleen Caulfield Yeager and Malcolm W. Yeager. His family later moved to Bellefonte, PA, where he was raised. He graduated from Bellefonte High School in 1954 and attended Penn State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship. In college, he served as president of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and was tapped for Lion’s Paw, the senior leadership society at Penn State. Upon graduation in 1958 with a BS degree in Metallurgy, Ensign Yeager entered the Navy’s flight program and earned his wings in 1959. He served as a plane commander in Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Seven which operated from the carrier USS Randolph, principally in the North Atlantic. The mission was to develop antisubmarine tactics for the Navy, but the reality turned out to be chasing Soviet missile submarines during the Cold War. Mr. Yeager found time to stand Officer of the Deck watches aboard the Randolph and became a qualified OOD underway. He witnessed the recovery of several astronauts in the South Atlantic, including John Glenn on America’s first globe circling flight and Gus Grissom’s ill-fated Mercury mission. Bob remained in the naval reserve after leaving active duty and rose to the rank of Commander.
He later attended the Dickinson School of Law and graduated in 1966. Wishing to combine his undergraduate education and law degree, he came to Pittsburgh, which then was ‘the steel capital of the world’, and joined Walter Blenko Sr, a highly skilled trial lawyer noted for his success in litigating patents in the metals industry. Messrs. Blenko and Yeager worked together for years in representing J&L Steel in a patent dispute on the basic oxygen furnace which revolutionized steelmaking processes throughout the world. During the course of that activity, at age 31, Bob met and married Wanda Parks, the widow of a Navy pilot. He adopted their three children: Richard, Suzanne and Steven, ages 13, 10, and 9. He often quipped to friends that he and the children “grew up together – except they made it and I didn’t.”
In 1971, Mr. Yeager formed his own boutique patent law firm in Pittsburgh. For a decade, he taught a course in Intellectual Property at Duquesne Law School and achieved prominence in the field of intellectual property litigation. He was one of the first intellectual property lawyers in Pittsburgh to be recognized in the peer directory, “Best Lawyers in America”. In 1979, he became the youngest president of the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Association.
In 1985, Mr. Yeager joined the Pittsburgh firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and founded its intellectual property practice which now boasts over 200 lawyers. Then divorced, he married his wife, Edie, on Valentine’s Day 1986 after a two-month whirlwind courtship. The couple soon developed a strong interest in golf and together established the Pittsburgh Youth Golf Foundation, devoted to enhancing the lives of at risk children. Through year-round programs, PYGF now serves several hundred inner-city youth each year. In 2005 Bob was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the Tri State section of the PGA and inducted into its Hall of Fame for his work with PYGF. His community activities included serving the United Way, the original committee to elect John Heinz to the United States Senate, and the Board of Directors of the Sewickley Valley YMCA. He was a longtime member of the Duquesne Club and member of the Edgeworth Club in Sewickley.
Mr. Yeager recently published The Patent, a suspense-thriller, which opens in post-World War II West Germany. At the time of his death, he was working on his second gripping Doug McAllister adventure, The Trademark.
Bob is survived by his wife, Edith Poling Yeager, children: Richard “Skip” (Darla) Parks, Suzanne (Dave Knorr) Parks, Steven (Kathleen) Parks, Susan (Joe) Coyle; six grandchildren, Richard, Madeline, Douglas and Cara Parks, Ava and Joe Coyle, III; and his sister, Alice McMullen.
A memorial service will be held at Copeland Funeral Home, Sewickley, on Saturday, April 10 from 10-12. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Pittsburgh Youth Golf Foundation, Summer Camp Program, 1409 Beulah Rd. Pgh, PA 15235 or online at PYGF.org/donate.
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Pittsburgh Youth Golf Foundation, Summer Camp Program
1409 Beulah Rd., Pittsburgh PA 15235