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William Neal Yeats

September 9, 1930 — February 18, 2024

Lancaster PA

William Neal Yeats, prominent educator and accomplished musician and Resident of Willow Valley Retirement Communities, Lancaster, PA, since 2007, and passed away at the Glen on February 18, 2024. Born in Durant, OK, September 9, 1930, he was the son of the late Frederick and Lucy Yeats of Hartshorne, OK. Bill was predeceased by one brother, Carroll Yeats, and one sister, Louise Yeats of Bartlessville, OK. He is survived by his devoted wife, Jan, of 67 years, in addition to his wife, Mr. Yeats is survived by two daughters, Stephanie Chelius and her husband, Christopher Chelius of Orlando, FL; and Janet Boyce and her husband Frederick Boyce of West Grove, PA; plus four grandchildren, Rachel Chelius of Vancouver, BC, Stephan Chelius and his wife Cecilia of Harrisburg, PA, Alexandria Dotson-Boyce and Sarah Boyce of West Grove, PA; and five great-grandchildren, Samuel, Catherine, Lucia, Magdalene, and Penelope. 

Mr. Yeats was with the Philadelphia Board of Education of 35 years as Vocal Director at South Philadelphia High School where he conducted multiple choirs and ensembles and staged over 20 Broadway musicals there. As director of the All-Philadelphia High School Opera Workshop, he staged and conducted critically acclaimed productions of Ravel’s “L’Enfant et Les Sortilege”; Hindemith’s “Hin und Zuruck”; and Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” His greatest joy was seeing his music students excel in all their endeavors.

He was tenor soloist at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia, for 43 years. In 1995, he conducted “A Celebration of Psalms” with choirs from Old Christ Church, Congregation Rodeph Shalom, and Swarthmore Presbyterian Church commemorating their 300th, 200th, and 100th anniversaries, respectively, in the sanctuary of Rodeph Shalom. He has appeared as an opera and recital soloist at the Marlboro Festival, as a staff member and recitalist at Temple University’s Ambler Festival, The Amherst Summer Music Camp, The Settlement Musical School Summer Program, and also appeared as soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, The Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, The Reading Symphony, The Mendelssohn Club, Choral Arts Society, and University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore Colleges. 

Mr. Yeats was one of the national committee of six educators to critique and write the National Teachers Examination in music education for the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ. 

Mr. Yeats was a native of Oklahoma and saw military duty with the 45th Infantry Division in Japan and Korea, 1950-1952. Following his service in the Military and Korea, he attended and graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelors in Music Education, and held a Master of Music Education from the University of Indiana, Bloomington. He was a graduate of The Curtis Institute with an Artist’s Diploma.   While at Indiana University, he studied voice with Anna Kaskas and had the leading lead Tenor role in three major operas which lead to his acceptance to the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA. 

Jan and her daughters, Stephanie and Janet, would like to extend their sincere appreciation to the nursing and medical staff of Manor North and the Glen for their outstanding care and support of Bill. A memorial service is scheduled Saturday, March 2, 2024 at the Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, Swarthmore, PA, at 2:00 PM.

In lieu of flowers a contribution may be made to The Yeats Music Endowment Fund, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church; 727 Harvard Avenue, Swarthmore, PA or Hospice and Community Care; P.O. Box 4125 Lancaster, PA 17604-4125.

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Memorial Service

Saturday, March 2, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Swarthmore Presbyterian Church

727 Harvard Ave
Swarthmore, PA 19081

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