James H. “Pud” Yiengst was born July 7, 1944, to Eugene W. and Bernetha M. Yiengst. Jim was married to Rita A. Kurtz Yiengst who passed away in 2003. He was survived by a daughter, Michelle H., wife of Daniel J. Poplaski, and a son, Michael J. Sr., husband of Devon M. Yiengst. He was blessed with four grandchildren, Joseph E. Poplaski, Andrew J. Poplaski, Michael J. Yiengst Jr., and Aaron D. Yiengst. He was a 1962 graduate of Myerstown High School. He worked for Bayer Corporation as a machinist and retired after 40 years.
Jim joined the Keystone Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 of Myerstown on August 1, 1961. He served the Keystone for 55 years. For a combined total of 32 years he held the position of recording secretary and assistant recording secretary. Jim also served in the positions of assistant engineer and president. He served on several committees, co-chairman of the Keystone’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, co-chairman of the 1978 Lebanon County Convention, 1980 New Station Dedication, co-chairman of the Keystone’s 125th, and Lebanon County Convention in 2000. At the time of his passing he was a member of the 2017 Lebanon County Convention Committee. He participated in the planning and purchase of several pieces of Keystone apparatus, 1986 Chevy/Shaak Supply, 1992 LTI/Mack Engine, 2005 New Lexington/Mack Rescue, 2005 purchase of the 1992 Pierce Arial and the 2009 4-Guys Wagon. Jim was named the 20th Life Member of the Keystone in 1994.
He was also a member of other fire-related organizations: a 40-year member of PA Pump Primers, the Lebanon County Firefighters Association, Fireman’s Association of Pennsylvania, Gooseneckers Society of the State Association, SPAAMFFA, National Fire Museum Harrisburg, Schuylkill County Historic Fire Museum, and the Reading Area Fire Museum.
Jim collected fire memorabilia and had a flair for antique fire apparatus. He was the owner of the former Keystone 1958 Chevy Rescue truck and 1963 Mack Rescue that served the Croton Fire Patrol in Croton- on-Hudson, New York. He previously owned a 1958 Mack “B” Model Engine that saw service with the Grantley Fire Company, Spring Garden Township, York County, Pennsylvania.
On Friday evening, March 31, 2017, Jim responded with the Keystone to an accident call, where he became ill. He passed away on Saturday morning, April 1, 2017, at the Wellspan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. On Saturday, April 8, 2017, Jim took his last ride to his final resting place on his 1958 Chevy Rescue Truck.
Jim touched the hearts of so many and will be forever missed.