Many people ask, “Just who was W.J. Yourd?"
William John Yourd (1886-1941) was a young man when he died, while still the active principal of Clinton High School, January 25, 1941. He was young in appearance and a handsome man, who was well-loved by his faculty and also by the students. He had a son, John, teaching in Grinnell; and two young daughters at CHS, Leta a junior, and Loretta, a sophomore. Sadly, his heart gave out and the community was devastated with their loss. An overflow crowd attended his services at the old 1st Congregational Church on South 4th Street and at the memorial service at CHS.
Yourd was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and matriculated at a Tennessee college, Maryville, and taught in that state for several years. He then went to be a principal in Nebraska, before coming to Clinton as a young administrator in 1917, as the leader of the cram-packed old Clinton High School (now Roosevelt), when it had 540 students in it, which was twice the number it was supposed to hold. The adjoining Washington School as well as a neighboring residence were also used! He assisted in moving into the new high school in 1922, which soon grew to be 1000 students. The town was growing, and more students decided to continue their education instead of terminating school after the eighth grade -- which had been the previous, common custom.
Many school administrators of that era used both of their initials. Men like Superintendents R. T. Grau and J.R. Mounce and well-respected, long time Washington Junior High School principal, J. R. Ingraham, who was sometimes known as “Lefty” Ingraham when he pitched for the State University of Iowa in 1929 and in this area in his early years. They were a special breed of top administrators. C. Olen Higbee, Harold “Doc” Blanchard, Marion Howard, Art Hoogheem, Stan Reeves, Ethel Holmes, and Marie Kaufusman were among many other fine ones. Always at the top of the list remembered by old-timers, however, is W. J. Yourd.