Obituary: Ron Yoder / Owned Shadyside record store

Aug. 18, 1947 - April 11, 2009

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Ron Yoder grew up on a farm in the Somerset community of Boswell, but he was a city boy at heart.

He made his mark in two Pittsburgh neighborhoods, establishing a popular specialty record store in Shadyside as well as a vegetarian restaurant in Oakland.

Mr. Yoder, 61, died in Sarasota, Fla., on April 11. His home was in Point Breeze.

He leaves behind no close relatives. Instead, he found family and friends in the community of merchants on Walnut Street in Shadyside.

"The street won't be the same," said Jody Vignale, co-owner of Four Winds Gallery.

John Krena opened the Four Winds Gallery on Walnut Street in 1974 and Mr. Yoder was one of the store's first customers. "We just hit it off immediately, started hanging around together, started playing racquetball together," recalled Mr. Krena.

Mr. Yoder owned and ran Record Village from 1989 to 2005. The store specialized in the music that he loved, world beat, blues and jazz.

"He had to own a record store with his love for music," said Mr. Krena, "I don't think anyone ever walked into Record Village and felt like just a customer. He made friends with everyone."

Before Record Village, Mr. Yoder, a longtime vegetarian, started the Cornucopia restaurant on Atwood Street in Oakland, one of Pittsburgh's first vegetarian restaurants.

Sue Woodcock worked at the restaurant, which operated from 1976 to 1980 in the location now occupied by India Garden, and then continued to work for Mr. Yoder almost continuously until he sold Record Village in 2005.

"He was a very, very special person. He's helped many people through the years. I was one of them. I came to Pittsburgh alone, without any money. And he gave me a job," she said.

In August 2007, Mr. Yoder ran into another Walnut Street acquaintance, Sandy Francis, getting lunch from the hot dog cart. He bought her a hot dog and then he asked her if he could take her on a date sometime.

He took her to lunch at Girasole, also on Walnut and one of his favorite restaurants. That day Mr. Yoder confided in her that he had had cancer, multiple myeloma, and he thought it was returning. He asked Ms. Francis if she would go with him to a doctor's appointment and she agreed. "I felt very honored," she recalled.

He died at the home of his friends John and Carol Krena with the Krenas and Ms. Francis by his side.

Donations to the Animal Rescue League are recommended. A private memorial celebration is being planned; call 412-682-5092 for details.

China Millman can be reached at 412-263-1198 or .


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