William (Peter) H.J. Yerkes
Journalist, Director of Media Relations
William (Peter) H.J. 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 (nee Townsend). A curious and aspiring young boy, he plotted escape from Wilmington by boarding a train at age 14 for St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire from where he graduated Cum Laude in 1960. He also graduated from Yale University in 1964. A passionate scholar, reader and writer, he became editor in chief for the Yale Literary Magazine.
A love of politics and government led him to a career as a newspaper reporter at The News Tribune in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Peter also worked as New Jersey State House Correspondent for the New York Daily News in Trenton; and New Jersey State House Bureau Chief, columnist and editorial writer for the Bergen Record in Hackensack.
During the most eventful 10 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, Egypt Air Flight 990 and the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack.
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 to Office of Media Relations for response to World Trade Center bombing and the “Best of the Best” award to the Office of Media Relations.
Peter had a fascinating career that wholly engaged him and brought out all of his gifts. He was a charming, kind, elegant, literate man who was wise, honorable, 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.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Peter’s name to Plan International USA.