BLUE RIDGE, GA. -- Former Defiance physician Dr. John J. W. Yoder departed this life unexpectedly on Christmas Day to be joined with his Savior and to rejoin his loved ones who have gone on before him.
Born in Seymour, Indiana, on December 29, 1934, he was the first son of the Rev. James Willard and Elsie Mae Loertz Yoder. Dr. Yoder graduated from The University of the South (Sewanee, GA) with a major in chemistry. He then completed a master's degree in biochemistry from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He graduated from Temple University Medical School in Philadelphia, earning an M.D. degree. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He enlisted in the United States Army and served a tour of duty in Vietnam in a MASH unit as the chief of orthopaedics. He was honorably discharged with a rank of Major and received the Bronze Star for his heroism and for the countless lives he saved as a surgeon in Vietnam. He was board certified in orthopaedic surgery and was a fellow in the Orthopaedic Society. He practiced orthopaedic surgery in several locations including Defiance and Blue Ridge, GA, until his semi-retirement several years ago. In recent years he served on Fannin Regional Medical Center's bio-ethics committee. He was the recipient of a 50-year service medal from the American Medical Association.
Dr. Yoder was preceded in death by his wife, Joan Yoder; a daughter, Theresa Katharine Freisen; his parents, Rev. and Mrs. J.W. Yoder; and infant brother, James Michael Yoder.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Yvette J. Yoder; children, Cynthia Buehner Witty of Winchester, VA, and Rebecca Loertz Sweigart of Hummelstown, PA; and eight grandchildren. He also is survived by his brother James W. Yoder, Jr. and wife, Thelma M. Yoder of Johnson City, TN; sisters, Dr. Felicia A Yoder of Paterson, NJ, Dr. Sherida Yoder (Cronk) of North Haledon, NJ, and Margaret Yoder Johnston of Hawthorne, NJ; and many nieces and nephews.
Dr. Yoder was active in the Episcopal Church, having served in several capacities including vestryman, eucharistic minister and lay reader; trustee of the University of the South-Sewanee; delegate to the diocesan convention; and senior warden at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Copperhill, TN.
Dr. Yoder was an avid lover of all living things. He was active in animal rescue and devoted a great deal of time to this activity. He was a man of great faith, compassion and generosity, who lived for others with immense personal integrity and with devotion and tenderness to all his loved ones, who mourn him deeply: He was truly a gift from God.
Funeral services were on Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 2 p.m. in the St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Blue Ridge, GA, with Father Victor Morgan officiating. Interment followed in the St. Luke's Episcopal Church Cemetery with military honors presented by the North Georgia Honor Guard.
Arrangements were entrusted to the Henry-Cochran Funeral Home of Blue Ridge, GA. You may send condolences to the family and sign the guest register at www.cochranfuneralhomes.com.