Richard T. Yates

Richard T. Yates (Baltimore Sun / March 7, 2012)

Richard Thomas Yates, a former Carroll County commissioner who fought in Europe during World War II, died of aortic stenosis Monday at Dove House Hospice in Westminster.

The longtime Sykesville resident was 86.

The son of a horse trainer and a homemaker, Mr. Yates was born in Baltimore and raised on Arunah Avenue. After quitting Forest Park High School in his junior year, he was drafted into the Army in 1943.

He was assigned to the 314th Regiment of the 79th Division during training in Arizona and Kansas, and in 1944 was shipped overseas to England.

After landing at Utah Beach in Normandy on June 13, 1944, the 79th pushed on until capturing Cherbourg, France, which was a strategically critical deep-water port, on June 26.

During the subsequent battle for La Haye-du-Puits, which contained an important rail line, Mr. Yates was wounded when a German artillery shell landed in the trench where he was sheltering and blew him 20 feet into a road.

The concussion from the explosion detonated a grenade he was carrying, which blew him to the other side of the road, destroying part of his tibia in the process.

Mr. Yates was sent back to England, and then to the hospital at the University of Virginia, where he recuperated until being discharged in March 1945. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Mr. Yates attended the University of Maryland, College Park on the GI Bill and earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1965.

He worked for the Army as a civilian contract specialist in the Inspector General's Office until retiring in 1986.

Mr. Yates moved to Carroll County in 1963 and became active in Republican politics. In 1994, he was elected to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, and held that position until being defeated in 1998.

Mr. Yates retained an interest in Republican politics in Carroll County, family members said.

He was a member and former commander of VFW Post 4952 and was a member of the Freedom Lodge of the Masons.

Mr. Yates made numerous visits to La Haye-du-Puits, and in 1993 returned with about 100 other veterans for the dedication of a monument for those soldiers who fell there.

He was a duckpin bowler and had held a private pilot's license. He and a friend shared ownership of a Cessna airplane and enjoyed flying.

Mr. Yates was an avid gardener and enjoyed caring for the 20 apple trees that graced his Sykesville home.

Services for Mr. Yates will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Haight Funeral Home, 6416 Sykesville Road, Sykesville.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Mary Louise Dawson; two sons, Donald R. Yates and Kenneth Yates, both of Sykesville; a daughter, Julia Ann Sothoron of Sykesville; and eight grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com