Serving Whitman County since 1877

Herman Ray Yates

Aug. 19, 1941 - Sept. 3, 2023

Herman Ray Yates, 82, of Kamiah passed away Sunday morning, September 3, 2023. Herman was born August 19, 1941, to Kenneth and Phyllis (Cargill) Yates at the Grangeville hospital. He and his younger brother, Delbert, were raised on the family farm 12 miles south of Kamiah on the edge of the Camus Prairie just above Stites and four miles East of Winona.

Herman attended all 12 years of his schooling at Kamiah graduating in 1959. In 1963, he completed his Bachelor of Science Degree in History and Political Science from the University of Idaho as well as receiving both Idaho and Washington teaching certification. Continuing his graduate studies, Herman earned a Master and Specialist Degrees, both in School Administration.

On June 23, 1963, he married his "forever partner", Shirlene Matthews, a 1960 Kamiah graduate. They brought three beautiful children into this world, enjoyed four grandchildren and celebrated their 60 years together this last spring.

They started their life together in Blackfoot, Idaho, then on to Waitsburg, Rosalia and Sprague, Wash., and Parma, Idaho, as a teacher and high school principal. Fifteen years later, Herman was hired as Superintendent of the Kootenai School District and later the Kamiah School District.

The most rewarding years of his career as an educator was running an alternative high school program in the Carnation School District located in Duval, Washington. Herman was given money for the program, a suggested list of kids who had been expelled, a building separate from the high school for classes and off he went.

Herman built a program that was individualized for each student. He was a teacher, principal, counselor, social worker and sometimes a parent. After earning the credits needed for graduation which included life skills, the students received high school diplomas at a special graduation ceremony created by him just for them.

He retired back home to Kamiah in 2007, blending into community organizations. He loved working with finance, law, and the schools.

Herman was on the Kamiah School Board of Trustees for eight years between 2011-2019 working for kids, teachers, parents, and the community. He was instrumental in setting up the Kamiah Education Foundation. Using his leadership skills, he provided ideas how to form it and then promote it. He was its first President. He served as President of the Lewis County Historical Society and then provided the legal work to create the Kamiah Valley Historical Society with a Museum name change.

Herman was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Delbert, and his oldest son Ken.

Surviving family is his wife Shirlene, daughter Kristine (Glenn) Bourgeois, son Kraig Yates, Granddaughters Alisa (Devin) Lesley and Keneesha (Francisco) Moreira, Grandsons Kelly Bourgeois and Kameron Bourgeois, Great-Grandson Kaden Lesley, and sister-in-law Barbara Yates.

A special thanks goes to the wonderful caring staff of Syringa Hospice. They provided support that can never be repaid and will never be forgotten.

A memorial service will be held in memory of Herman at the Kooskia Community Center on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at 1 p.m. Memorial contributions can be made to the Kamiah Education Foundation, P.O. Box 142, as it supports Kamiah kids and classrooms. Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville. Send condolences to the family at


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