Deborah Jaffe Yeomans


Deborah Yeomans of Dedham and Chilmark died quietly on June 19, 2012 with her two sons at her side. She was 73.

Born in Buffalo, New York, on April 21, 1939, the daughter of Mildred Miles Jaffe and Louis L. Jaffe, then the Dean of the Buffalo Law School, Deborah grew up principally in Cambridge where her father was a professor of law at Harvard. She attended the Buckingham School in Cambridge, then Milton Academy, Goucher College for three years, and Boston University for one.

During her year at B.U. (1960-1961) she became engaged to Frank Yeomans, a Harvard student, graduated from B.U., and married Frank who, after four years of teaching and two years of graduate studies, began a career in the financial industry in Boston.

The couple had two children, Stephen and Peter. Peter at age 3 suffered a tragic death, drowning off an island in Lake Muskoka, Ontario. After his death, the couple had a third child, Christopher.

Deborah loved music her whole life and for a number of years sang with the Dedham Chorale Society and then the St. Paul’s Church choir. She was also concerned about the wellbeing of others. From the early 1970s through the mid-1980s she worked successively in two social service agencies in Boston.

First she was at the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, a primarily government-funded entity where she worked to provide help to the elderly “from communities of color living in (the) Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan” sections of Boston. Then she worked for O.I.C., a mainly privately funded organization founded by The Reverend Dr. Leon J. Sullivan to “provide comprehensive employment training and placement for disadvantaged, unemployed, and unskilled Americans of all races.” At O.I.C. her efforts were focused on teaching English as a second language to new arrivals, largely from Haiti and the Soviet Union/Russia.

The family had a summer home next door to her parents’ house in Chilmark. Both of her sons eventually moved to the Vineyard as year-round residents where Stephen has worked as a tennis pro, handyman, and carpenter, and Chris worked in various capacities, including a six-year stint as Menemsha Harbor Master and now real estate sales, management, and development.

Deborah is survived by her two sons, Stephen and Chris, and his wife Jenn Yeomans, her brother Miles Jaffe and his wife Julie Jaffe, her former husband Frank Yeomans, and John Carrozzi, her longtime dancing partner and devoted friend.

A memorial service will be held at St. Paul’s Church in Dedham on Saturday, June 30. at 11 am, immediately followed by a reception.

Donations may be sent in her name to the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, RR1, Box 319X, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.