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 We hold this community, this historic county, and these environs in trust for those who come later. Isn't that what this is all about?  


Memorial for Gale Yerges

Few among us become legends in their own time, but Gale was one. She has been the inspiration and advisor for dozens of historical preservation projects in Somerset County and beyond. As a central spirit and guide for hundreds of like-minded advocates for history, she leaves a void which we must somehow fill. She will be sorely missed.


Gale graduated from the University of Michigan in 1950 and a year later married Howard Yerges, another Michigan graduate. Gale and Howard then moved to St Louis Missouri and lived there for nearly 30 years. During those years, they raised two daughters and Gale became increasingly active in community service. She was named Outstanding Young Woman of 1961 by the Ladies Auxiliary of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, served as president of the Junior League of St Louis 1967-69, served as president of the Women’s Association of the Missouri Historical Society and finally as president of the Landmarks Association, which supported historic preservation efforts in downtown St. Louis.

In 1981, Gale and Howard moved to Somerset County Maryland, purchasing Hollyhurst on the Manokin River. She quickly learned that Somerset County is rich in historic buildings and heritage. She immediately joined the Somerset County Historical Trust, and was elected chairman in February 1982, a position she held until her death. It did not take the state of Maryland long to discover her talents, and Governor Harry Hughes appointed Gale to the Maryland Historical Trust in 1985 to represent Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico Counties. She was continually reappointed to the 4-year trustee term by subsequent governors, and ultimately served five different governors in that capacity.

In 1998, Gale joined the board of the Friends of Teackle Mansion and was elected its president in 2000. She has served countless hours on many boards, exhibiting passion and dedication to historic preservation and demonstrating leadership and commitment to completing projects that have a lasting effect on the town, the county and the state, and most importantly, on future generations. Gale had a special ability to persevere through any obstacle, all the while demonstrating courtesy and humor.

Gale’s beloved husband Howard predeceased her in 2000. She is survived by two daughters: Joan Yerges Sharpe of Lewisville, NC, Lynn Yerges Buhl of Evanston, IL; a grandson, Robert Francis Sharpe, III of Key West, FL; her sister-in-law Mary Huntington of Ann Arbor, MI and niece Elizabeth Huntington and nephew James Huntington. She considered herself blessed by an extended family of first, second & third cousins, as well as Yerges, Buhl and Chapman relatives by marriage.

The family suggests that memorial contributions may be sent to the Gale Huntington Yerges fund of the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore on-line at www.cfes.org; to the Somerset County Historical Trust, PO Box 863, Princess Anne, MD 21853 or to the Friends of Teackle Mansion, PO Box 152, Princess Anne, MD 21853.

Regina Bell says it best ...

A year before her death, more than 100 family members and friends of a lifetime gathered in Princess Anne at a gala dinner to express their appreciation and affection for Gale Yerges. The gala’s organizers asked attendees to contribute an entry to a memory book they were assembling for Gale. Regina Bell, whose privilege it was to introduce Gale, chose to read her entry:

  When we bought Harrington in 1985, we left a tight-knit community in Salisbury, and some of our neighbors warned us that we would hate it in Somerset County – living out there in the sticks, not knowing anyone, no social life. At first, it seemed that they were right.

And then Gale, you made your move. “You must join the Trust”, you said. You implied that this was obligatory for owners of National Register properties, as was attendance at the annual meeting at Hollyhurst. We were very young. We obeyed. We went to the meeting, which turned out to be a really nice party. We were embraced. We met all sorts of people who seemed very interested to meet us. They either owned old houses, or liked old houses. It was magical. It wasn’t long before I found myself in the thick of fundraising, helping with an antique show, working on Smithsonian bus tours…then the Brittingham House, and then the Littleton Long House…the endless stream of your projects has kept me busy for 33 years.

What I learned from you, Gale, and what I’ve tried to do myself ever since, is to make that first move. To create a community by welcoming new people I encounter, introducing them to each other and to old timers they might enjoy. We were all new people once, even you. But you showed us how it’s done. We used to say a prayer at St. Andrews about striving to become an inviting and welcoming people. I like to think that Somerset County is a more inviting and welcoming place because of you.  

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