David H. Yoder, prominent Morgantown, WV, builder and developer of North Hills, died peacefully at Mon Health Medical Center on February 23 at the age of 91.
David Harvey Yoder—born October 10, 1931, in Meyersdale, PA—was the second of eight siblings in a Mennonite family who grew up speaking both English and Pennsylvania Dutch on a farm near Salisbury, PA. He was preceded in death by his parents George Ernest and Lena (Bender) Yoder, brothers Richard and Omar, and his youngest sister Delilah who is presumed deceased after going missing while traveling in Ecuador in 1976.
In 1964, David married Ruby (Shenk) Yoder (divorced 1998) and they had two sons in Morgantown, WV, where David co-founded companies including Allegheny Development, Allegheny Real Estate Sales, Pineview Realty, and Pineview Supply/Ace Hardware. Always active in ambitious development initiatives, he served as past President of the Home Builders Association of West Virginia, North Central West Virginia Homebuilders Association, Apartment and Rental Housing Association of West Virginia, and Monongalia County Development Authority. He was also named Life Director of the National Association of Homebuilders in recognition of his significant contributions to the building industry.
Above all, David was a creative and inspiring leader who shunned the status quo. He was equally at home leading hymns and driving bulldozers as he was chairing meetings and negotiating deals. He could be remarkably generous with friends and family members. When they needed a job, he hired them; when they needed transportation, he located a car; when they needed housing, he found it or sometimes even built it. David was also a gifted public speaker who frequently served as a compelling advocate for effective development on behalf of different local, state, and national organizations. In 1977, he testified in front of a House International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations regarding the U.S. State Department’s “ineffective and unresponsive attitude” regarding the family’s investigation into Delilah’s disappearance.
In 1957, without having attended high school due to his obligations on the family farm, David graduated from Goshen College (IN) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. Later he twice pursued graduate study abroad in Austria: first as a private opera student with Professor Karl Heinz Tuttner at the Vienna Academy of Music and University of Vienna, and later as a visiting scholar in folk culture at the University of Graz. David also attended Willamette University (OR), Eastern Mennonite College (VA), Madison College (now James Madison University) (VA), Bethel College (IN), and West Virginia University where he pursued graduate coursework in music, folk literature, and foreign languages. To pay for his wide-ranging education, he supervised the boys’ residence hall at Western Mennonite High School and operated heavy log-moving equipment in Oregon, sold cheese to Amish families throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, moved travel trailers across New York State, and raised award-winning Elkhound dogs in West Virginia.
David’s greatest joys included playing with his grandchildren, hunting deer in the Allegheny Mountains, planning challenging building projects, reminiscing with relatives at extended family reunions, operating excavators and pouring concrete, attending WVU football and basketball games, savoring pies baked by his sisters, and leading four-part singing as a member of Springs Mennonite Church where he also frequently directed the annual Christmas Chorus.
David is survived by loving sons Jon (Sue) Yoder of Stow, OH, and Robert (Janna) Yoder of Morgantown; grandchildren Sophia, Gabriel, and Gavin; sisters Miriam (Tom) Lindeman of Springs, PA, Ida Yoder of Kensington, MD, Eleanor (Ralph) Nucelli of Gettysburg, PA, Freda Yoder of Springs, PA; and sister-in-law Helen (Omar) Yoder of Darlington, England.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30am on Saturday, March 11, at Springs Mennonite Church, 1686 Springs Road, Springs, PA 15562. In lieu of flowers, gifts in David’s memory may be mailed to “David H. Yoder Ingenuity Fund,” Goshen College, Development Office, 1700 South Main Street, Goshen, IN 46526, or made online: https://www.goshen.edu/give/online/.
Newman Funeral Homes, P.A., 179 Miller Street, Grantsville, MD, is assisting the family with arrangements.