Apr. 5—Grace A. Yard, a Millbury woman who cared for hundreds of infants in foster care for more than 45 years, died April 2 at Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg. She was 77.
She battled a rare cancer over the past few years, but kidney failure contributed to her death, her daughter, Amy Krukemyer said. She grew up in Toledo, where she lived the majority of her life, but she moved to Millbury in 2000 with her husband, John A. Yard, who survives.
Mrs. Krukemyer said she wasn't sure how her mother initially got into foster care, but it turned out to be her true calling. Mrs. Yard retired from the field about 10 years ago, after helping raise more than 200 children over the span of nearly 47 years.
"'Who would take care of those babies?'" Mrs. Krukemyer said her mother frequently asked.
About a year into their marriage in 1964, the Yards began working with Catholic Charities, and later with Lucas County Children Services. They cared for infant-age children — sometimes two at a time — prior to starting their own family in 1965.
The couple had five children of their own, Barbara Garman, Trisha Yard, Michael Yard, Amy Krukemyer, and John C. Yard. They, along with several grandchildren, helped Mrs. Yard with the foster children.
"It was just something that we did. As long as they were in our house, they were part of our family. They were just another brother or sister," Mrs. Garman said.
The infants were in foster care for a variety of reasons, but Mrs. Yard treated them as her own until they were adopted or reunited with their biological family members. She knew the work it took to care for the babies, frequently waking in the middle of the night to rock them back to sleep.
"Too often, foster parenting gets a bad rap when some people view it as a source of income," Mrs. Krukemyer said. "But the reality is, as my parents found, foster parenting is a very rewarding profession. You will not get financially rich from this line of work but this will certainly enrich your life as well as others' lives."
Mrs. Yard named each child, without reusing the name for another child in her care. She also took plenty of photos of the infants to send to their future families so those early-life memories wouldn't be missed, Mrs. Garman said.
Over the years she received countless holiday cards and even invitations to high school graduations, her daughters said. Some of the children — now grown — stay in contact with the Yard family.
Mrs. Yard's children and grandchildren learned the important lesson of helping others. Many family members have since gone into social services jobs or started careers working with children. They attribute it back to Mrs. Yard.
"It's gone down the line and we've continued the tradition," Mrs. Garman said.
Aside from raising her own family and caring for children in foster care, Mrs. Yard worked occasional retail jobs and at a daycare. She also enjoyed camping, reading, and doing puzzles.
She was born March 19, 1944, in Toledo to John and Dorothy Fry and was a 1962 graduate of Whitney Vocational School.
Surviving her husband, John A. Yard; daughters Barbara Garman, Trisha Yard, and Amy Krukemyer; sons Michael Yard and John C. Yard; brother, Raymond Fry; sister, Dorothy Fry; nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home's Millbury Chapel, 1111 Woodville Road, Millbury, where a scripture service will be held at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Parish.
The family suggests tributes to Lucas County Children Services or a similar child-case agency.