Archives—August 31, 2011

Donald Yerg, former Graduate Studies Dean and Physics Faculty Member, Dies

Donald G. Yerg, 86, died July 23 in Minneapolis. He was born in Lewistown, Pa., and received a PhD in Physics/Meteorology from Pennsylvania State University. He joined the faculty of Michigan Tech in 1955, after several years of conducting research and teaching at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and in Puerto Rico.

At Michigan Tech, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the physics department and was the University’s first Dean of Graduate Studies (now the Graduate School), helping to build Tech’s master’s and doctoral programs.

Professor emeritus Don Daavettila recalled working with Yerg as a graduate student before they became colleagues in the physics department.

“He was very helpful to us as students, always explaining what he was doing,” Daavettila said. “I enjoyed that. He was a fine person. He loved to talk physics, and he loved to talk politics, too.”

Yerg remained active in upper atmosphere research by publishing and presenting at various national scientific and academic conferences. For several years, he hosted a program on Michigan Tech’s radio station, WGGL, where he interviewed scientists on how their research impacted everyday life.

An avid reader of political, social and foreign journals, and historical works; a student of the Spanish language, the recorder and acoustic guitar; and a writer of progressive letters to the press–he was a man of inquisitive mind and critical thinking.

He was happiest on the shores of Lake Superior or on backwoods trails of the Keweenaw, whether it was sailing, hiking, biking or skiing. His ashes will be spread over Lake Superior in a family ceremony.

He is survived by wife, Mary Jane, children George, Mark, and Suzanne Yerg, and four grandchildren. Cards can be sent to Dare’s Funeral Home, 805 Main Street, Elk River, Minn. 55330, or visitors can sign the guest book at daresfuneralservice.com .

by Dennis Walikainen, senior editor
Published in Tech Today