Vivian and Carl Yettru

An interview by Margaret Howe
November 2021

I first met Vivian and Carl on a summer Sunday morning in our sanctuary – in the middle of worship.  This lovely couple came to church expecting service to begin at the time listed on the church website.  Guess what – we were in summer worship time and never changed the information on our website – and worship was happening – it was a summer service on the seven streams of music – so lots of hymns. Vivian and Carl stayed and we had a conversation after worship.  I learned two important things that morning – keeping current the NPUMC worship times and I really liked Vivian and Carl!

It is now ten years later – can you believe it – Carl and Vivian are very much a part of our congregation – they have been residents at Woodland Pond for 10 years – and they just celebrated 66 years of marriage.  They have been involved in the life of NPUMC in every way since that summer Sunday. They are people to celebrate – so we just presented them with Prayer Blankets – “just because”. Now a bit more about this amazing couple – I asked them a series of questions – and their responses make me smile – thank you Vivian and Carl for sharing with us!

How did you adapt from your own big home in Cornwall to the Woodland Pond and New Paltz community?

Adapting to Woodland Pond and New Paltz  – We had slowly been preparing for several years to move from our big house. We had at least 2 huge yard sales where the profits were split with Habitat. We were debating where to move – and when we’d visit our son, Jon, who lives in Highland just over the New Paltz line – we’d read his newspaper, learned about Woodland Pond and signed up! 4 years later we had not sold our house and almost took our names off the Woodland Pond list. Our first house sale fell through when Hurricane Irene flooded the region and flooded our basement. Woodland Pond came through and helped us out because here we were, moving in here, but not having the money from a house sale.  We were able to borrow the money and a few years later a wonderful young couple purchased our 1893 Victorian farmhouse.

Our granddaughter graduated from SUNY New Paltz, so we had been here many times to take her out to lunch, etc. So adjusting  to the community was easy.

We brought too much “stuff” with us and are still sorting and deleting after 10 years here.

Tell us about Habitat – and your long involvement – which is why we at NPUMC are now involved with Habitat.

Our involvement in Habitat for Humanity started when Carl read about a Habitat work event in Vermont. We signed on and took our pop-up camper and worked on the project in Vermont. This led to our travels to Michigan and twice to Florida to work on other projects. The people we met were outstanding.

We were delighted when Newburgh had meetings about forming an affiliate there. Carl had taught for many years in Newburgh and was very aware of the extreme need in the city. We went to those meetings, and the rest is history.  Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh has now completed over 100 houses. We have worked on many of these builds. Part of the joy is getting to know and work with the families that are getting the houses.

When we started to attend NPUMC we learned Kathy Weiss had recently made inquiries about helping at Newburgh HFH. We were able to get Kathy and NPUMC latched onto the 5th Methodist Build house.

You are long time Kingswood (Kingswood – one of the United Methodist Camps in our Conference) Campers – what is that history?

We first went to Kingswood in our VW bus when our 3 boys were small. We never moved the bus for the whole week we were there, as we discovered we could walk to swimming, boating and the barn. For the next several years we camped with friends from the Cornwall area.

A friend recommended us to be managers at KW.  This involved spending two weeks “managing” the family camp. The position included registering and caring for campers, planning and leading nature hikes, campfires, worship services, etc. and overseeing camp maintenance.  It was a challenging two weeks — but we did it for 14 years. We’ve camped there with our family for many years. Kingswood still is a blessing in our lives.

Music is important to you – Carl has remembered and offered some amazing old hymns and the stories behind them – why and how has music influenced you?

Carl says  – “The message in many of the old hymns brings me joy and comfort through the harmony and the words. Singing in the choir in the Cornwall church for many years was a beautiful challenge which brought many blessings”. Vivian says – “Music has been a part of my entire life as I took piano and voice lessons as a child. From high school and college singing groups, to church choirs, to the WP Pondaliers – I always try to be part of a singing group. I’m so thankful that at age 90 I am still able to sing – and even hit a few high notes.

Family – what is the best advice you would openly give/gave – your sons and families and what is the best advice you can give to us?

We do not really have any advice for others about how to raise their children. We always just quietly tried to live our lives so that our sons would have role models to look up to. We tried to love unconditionally, even when their hair was long and we didn’t agree with their decisions. Love was what bound us together and still is holding us close.

What makes you tick?  You are always so positive. What is an important piece of your “faith journey”?

I think it is our faith that guides us and lifts us up and gives us a positive outlook on life. Carl mentions the influence of his Dad as a Congregational minister.  And he has good memories of when the NPUMC had us reading the Bible through. Viv feels that her faith has always been like a rudder in her life – her belief in Jesus has guided and sustained her through the years. She remembers her Mother’s influence and the help of a Sunday School teacher.  Vivian grew up in a church and can remember where she was when she had this overwhelming feeling that Jesus was her “friend” and she would never be alone. We both credit an Australian evangelist, Gloster Udy, who led meetings at the Cornwall church, for helping us on our spiritual journey. We both feel that our “faith journey” has always been a part of our lives. So many blessings! We are so thankful!