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Friday, June 13, 2014

Merrimack Town Council chairman Dave Yakuboff died Wednesday

MERRIMACK – When Dave Yakuboff Sr. decided to enter a 27-person race for Merrimack Charter Commission in 2005, he told his fellow residents he wanted to devote his time and energy to the town to “give back” to his community.

He also made it clear that in his view, anyone who runs for office to “represent their own agendas” has no business taking up a seat on any board or commission. ...

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MERRIMACK – When Dave Yakuboff Sr. decided to enter a 27-person race for Merrimack Charter Commission in 2005, he told his fellow residents he wanted to devote his time and energy to the town to “give back” to his community.

He also made it clear that in his view, anyone who runs for office to “represent their own agendas” has no business taking up a seat on any board or commission.

Such altruism and selflessness, friends and acquaintances say, was but one of many character traits that earned Yakuboff, whose unexpected death Wednesday afternoon plunged his hometown of 32 years into mourning, widespread respect and admiration from Town Hall to the business community to his Deerwood Drive neighborhood.

“What a great guy. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t say he was a great guy,” Nancy Harrington, vice chairperson of the Town Council said Thursday about Yakuboff, the council chairman who was nearing the middle of his three-year term.

“Dave will be remembered with a lot of fondness,” Harrington added. “Every time I think of him all I can do is smile.”

Town officials postponed Thursday’s scheduled Town Council meeting, as well as a public hearing on the proposed sewer access fee structure. A Zoning Board of Adjustment interview was cancelled.

Yakuboff, the owner of All Basics Stove Shop, who made local headlines in March when he strove to find ways to help his customers during an unprecedented pellet-fuel shortage, was stricken at his home just before 5 p.m. Wednesday. Medical crews rushed him to Elliot Hospital in Manchester, where he died a short time later.

Yakuboff was 59. He leaves his wife of 35 years, Priscilla, three children and several grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are pending. A post on All Basics’ Facebook page announcing his death states that details will be posted on the page when they are finalized.

Scores of condolences and tributes filled the page by Thursday evening. Former Town Councilor Brian McCarthy wrote that “it was an honor to serve with him … and to be able to call him a friend.”

“Dave was a great guy … Merrimack has a void that won’t be replaced,” wrote David McCray, another former councilor.

Others cited Yakuboff’s generosity to his fellow residents as well as the town and various causes he supported. Harrington said Yakuboff was deeply involved in several causes.

“Dave was very active, but he wasn’t the type to look for a lot of publicity,” she said.

Harrington said she first heard that Yakuboff had been taken to the hospital when, in her capacity as council vice chairwoman, Fire Chief Mike Currier called her Wednesday evening.

The next call came from Town Manager Eileen Cabanel with the news that he had died, Harrington said.

Cabanel issued a statement on the town website Thursday morning, saying that Yakuboff died “after battling a lengthy illness” and calling him a “proud veteran of the U.S. Navy and always the consummate family man who adored his wife, children and grandchildren.”

She ordered flags at town buildings to be flown at half-staff in memory of Yakuboff.

“Our hearts are broken by the loss of ‘Dave Y,’” Cabanel wrote.

Yakuboff became the face of the local wood pellet shortage saga in March, working long hours behind the scenes to try to find the fuel for his customers.

He went to the extent of warning out-of-staters that trying to “bump” his customers wouldn’t work.

“Please do not offer to pay more to bump a regular customer. It will not happen,” he wrote on a sign he posted in the store.

After an enraged man threatened one of his employees, Yakuboff armed himself and asked police to increase patrols near his shop.

Yakuboff was first elected to the Town Council in 2008 to fill the term of councilor Betty Spence, who resigned. He became vice chairman then chairman when he was reelected in 2013.

He was a lifetime member of Merrimack Post 98, American Legion and belonged to the Merrimack Rotary Club, and in addition to serving on the Charter Commission, was on the Town Highway Garage Building Committee last year.

Most importantly, Cabanel wrote, Yakuboff was “quietly generous,” and “never turned away anyone who needed his assistance.”

She urged Merrimack residents and business people to “memorialize his hard work, dedication and community spirit.

“Dave is a proud example of service and accomplishment,” she wrote. “This is a great loss for his family and for our community.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).