Paul Youmans, who worked in social service agencies helping underserved people for more than 50 years, including a longtime stint as executive director of the Coastal Community Action Program in Aberdeen, died last Friday in Longview where he had lived the past 20 years or so since leaving CCAP. He was 72.
In Longview, Youmans was executive director for a nonprofit agency called Pathways 2020. Like Coastal Community Action Program on Grays Harbor, it is a broad-based social service agency partnering with many other organizations on a wide range of social services that included affordable housing, services for the working poor, educational and training opportunities and services for people with mental or physical disabilities.
His brother Lane, younger by five years, remembers that his brother came home from college in the 1960s and went to work at a youth gathering place in Hoquiam called Perelandra, a drop-in spot for young people. It was the entry point to five decades of social services work that centered on people who needed help.
Lane Youmans is a retired Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s detective and County Coroner. Their father Rolland “Omar” Youmans was mayor of Hoquiam and a county commissioner. “His whole life was serving the public,” Lane Youmans said of his brother. “Dad was in politics and helped build the roads and bridges, Paul helped educate people and then I’d come along and put them in jail,” he joked.
Lane Youmans said his brother had health problems that had escalated in recent months.
Former Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney had been Paul Youmans’ friend since grade school where they were Central School locker partners.
Youmans was a regular in local Democratic politics, and Durney was a stalwart Republican. In 1968, a tumultuous year for politics, the two were among the organizers of a non-partisan mock political convention, Durney recalled.
Durney, who also served on the Aberdeen City Council and as Aberdeen mayor, said Youmans played a key role in the City of Aberdeen acquiring the Armory Building, in the 1980s. The Swanson family, which owned several supermarkets, owned it and offered it to the city. When Youmans supported it and agreed to move the CCAP agency there, that gave the city a paying tenant and a reason to take it. That helped make it possible to locate the museum and senior center there, too. The 2018 fire at the Armory has since displaced all those, although it led to CCAP taking over the former Seafirst Building downtown and saved it from becoming a vacant space in the middle of town.
“I think that’s a big deal,” Durney said. “If it wasn’t for Paul and his willingness and enthusiasm to move operations into the Armory it wouldn’t have been a success. The museum was just in its infancy and Paul was able to come in and pay for a lot of overhead of the building, then the museum could get started. To me, that is one of the most important things Paul contributed, was saving the Armory so we could have a museum, a senior center and a (location) for social services.”
Durney also pointed out that no story about his friend would be complete without noting that as a kid, Youmans won a local Soap Box Derby competition and made it back to Akron, Ohio, for the national competition.
Youmans is survived by his wife, Ella, at their home in Longview, and his daughter and her husband living in Longview.
No information about a service was available.