Yanda named Yukon’s Citizen of the Year

Small business owner, civic leader wins award 17 years after husband Anton

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Yukon’s Donna Yanda is owner and director of Yanda & Son Funeral Home, where she started working in 1986. The Yanda & Son team includes, from left, funeral director Homer Cobb, funeral director assistant Evan Wall, and Lance Yanda. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

A dedicated small business owner and community servant, Donna Yanda has been named Yukon’s Citizen of the Year – 17 years after her late husband Anton earned this distinction.

Yanda, a Yukon City Council member and owner/director of Yanda & Son Funeral Home, accepted the H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award during the April 30th Yukon Chamber of Commerce gala.

“This means so much to me,” Yanda said. “Yukon is such a great place to live and have a business. There are so many people I could thank for making this honor possible.

“I am just so fortunate and grateful to be part of our outstanding community when has given me so much.”

H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year Donna Yanda and her son Lance stand beside a portrait of the late Anton “Corky” Yanda III, who won the same award in 2004. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

The announcement came near the end of Friday night’s “Yukon’s Best Roundup” celebration in the Co-op parking lot.

Yukon Chamber Board member April Bow nominated Yanda for H.B. Frank Citizen of Year.

“Donna Yanda has always represented Yukon with the utmost character and respect,” Bow said.

Fellow Yukon City Council members Aric Gilliland, Rick Cacini, Jeff Wootton, and Shelli Selby congratulated Yanda on her accomplishment during the May 4th council meeting.

“She does a lot of things in our community and well deserves that (award),” Gilliland said. “And some of it is her direct work with the people that she serves on a daily basis.”

Donna Yanda (back right) is the Ward 3 representative on the Yukon City Council. Other members are: Front left, Mayor Shelli Selby and City Manager Tammy Kretchmar; back from left, Aric Gilliland, Jeff Wootton, Rick Cacini, and Yanda. (Photo provided)

Besides her Yukon City Council service, Yanda is a member of Spanish Cove Retirement Village’s board of trustees and previously was on the Yukon Chamber’s board of directors.

“In each of these roles, she serves selflessly and in the best interests of the constituents she represents,” Bow wrote in her nomination letter.

Bow referred to Yanda and her family as “staunch supporters” of Yukon Public Schools and many of the district’s extracurricular programs.

A native of Sentinel, Yanda has been in the funeral business for 35 years. She started working at the Yukon funeral service in 1986 and has led Yanda & Son Funeral Home since husband Anton’s passing in 2005.

A former city council and school board member, Yukon High School graduate Anton “Corky” Yanda III won the H.B. Frank Citizen of the Year award in 2004.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

After her husband’s passing, Donna Yanda returned to school and in 2010 earned a bachelor’s degree in funeral service at the University of Central Oklahoma.

While at Oklahoma State University in the 1970s, she set several records that still stand today as a four-year starter on the women’s varsity basketball team. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1978.

Bow nominated Yanda for the Yukon’s Citizen of the Year honor because of her dedication to make Yukon a better place to live, work and raise a family.

“Donna has worked tirelessly through the COVID pandemic to serve the families of our community who have lost loved ones,” according to her nomination letter. “She and her team at Yanda & Son Funeral Home continue to provide service, comfort and compassion to members of our community in their most difficult times.”

Yanda also is a trustee of the Yukon Economic Development Authority and previously served on UCO’s Funeral Advisory Board. She is a member of the First Baptist Church.

Her son, Lance, is a YHS and OSU graduate who helps with the family-owned funeral business.

Other award winners announced during the April 30th Yukon Chamber “Roundup” gala were:
Volunteer of the Year: Manna Pantry
T. J. Lowery Humanitarian of the Year: Dr. Jim Davis
Large Business of the Year: INTEGRIS Canadian Valley Hospital
Small Business of the Year: Vacca Territory Creamery & Coffeehouse.

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