Per Bruce Madej of U-M Media Relations:
Bill Yearby died on Dec. 20th after a long illness. His funeral is tomorrow Weds. Dec. 29 at 9 a.m. at the James H. Coles Funeral Home o at 2624 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, Michigan 48202.
Bill Yearby, an All-American defensive tackle for the University of Michigan Wolverines football team from 1963-1965, died on Dec. 20th after a long illness. Yearby attended Detroit’s Eastern High School, where he was the Class A state champion in the shot put in 1962 and All-State in football. He was an All-American at defensive tackle for U-M in both 1964 and 1965 and was named the Wolverines’ Most Valuable Player in 1965.Bump Elliott’s 1964 team won the Big Ten Conference and played in the Rose Bowl. Yearby was a first round draft choice of the New York Jets.
I chatted with Jim Conley, captain of the ‘64 squad and ‘65 Rose Bowl champions who shared the following statement on Yearby:
Bill Yearby was a remarkable man. As a 2 time all American, we all know he could play football. But, as a teammate, you could never ask for a better leader. Bill wasn’t vocal. He led by example. He was dedicated to the team and his teammates.
At a time when campuses all over America were in turmoil, Bill provided a calming grace. His demeanor was that of a lamb, and his heart was that of a lion or should I say wolverine. By the way Bill played, he set the tone for all who played around him. As Captain, I could count on Bill to have my back at every turn. On the campus or on the field, Bill was the best friend you could have.
Late in life he faced a lot of adversity. Through it all, he didn’t complain nor did he quit. In the end it was that big powerful heart that finally let him down. We will miss Bill and hopefully he is in a better place. In 1968, Ron Johnson became the first black captain of the Wolverines. Bill, his teammates and coaches, paved the way for this event.
In 1964, we all new that on the playing field, Bill was always in charge. Go Blue!
Bentley page on Yearby.