‹ Return to Current Obituaries

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Frank's visitation.

Frank W. Young

Frank W. Young, 92, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, died on April 26, 2021, at his home in Ithaca, NY.  Frank was born in Chicago, IL, on May 31, 1928.  At Deep Springs College in Nevada, Frank completed his undergraduate studies and was provided with a unique and special experience that had a profound impact on his life. At Deep Springs, he was tasked with everything from learning Latin, economic theory, and American government, to helping a Paiute Native American who did not speak English irrigate the fields. After serving in the military, he went on to earn his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1957 based on his fieldwork in Nova Scotia, where he studied the impact of urbanization on two fishing villages.  This study was followed by similar comparative research in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tunisia, and the Southern Tier region of New York State.  Much of this research used a new method of data collection focused on health trends. In 1968, he spent a year at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences and in 1975, he was a senior fellow at the East-West Center. After teaching at San Diego State and the University of Pittsburgh, he returned to Cornell, where he spent most of his academic career and taught for 33 years.  As a professor of development sociology, Frank was best known for his work in social differentiation and social structure, and later in population health.  He was widely published in sociological journals and was the advisor for many doctoral students over his academic career. Frank’s commitment and attention to their careers endeared him to generations of his students.

Frank met Loretta “Lorrie” Rushforth in a mountain lodge near the town of Champery, Switzerland, in the summer of 1977.  After communicating through letters, they were married ten years later in her native Chile.  Together, they traveled to Morocco, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, the Yucatan Province in Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands.  Frank always had a warm personality and was especially hospitable to people who came from abroad.  In retirement, he organized a monthly lunch group with his fellow professors called the “China Lunch.”  He also belonged to the Argentine Tango Club and loved the outdoors—from canoeing in the Adirondacks to snorkeling in the Yucatan. To his children, Christopher and Douglas, Frank was a father who taught strength, patience, love, and the ability to overcome unimaginable hardships in pursuit of a better life. 

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Lorrie Young; two sons, Christopher and Douglas Young and their families, including grandsons Alex and Andrew; and sister, Nellvergne. He was predeceased by his first wife and mother of his children, Ruth, in 2001.

Funeral services and interment in East Lawn Cemetery, Ithaca, will be private.




To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frank Young, please visit our flower store.


Remembering my old colleague and friend Frank Young.
I have a vivid memory of the day Frank walked into my office with a package of six complete copies of the manuscript we had prepared together (under his mentorship) and the letter to the journal editor ready to be mailed--no online submissions back then. We had already gone back and forth thought 7 different revisions of the paper. I told him that I was sorry, but I didnt think the paper was ready yet, and needed a few more edits. He took a very deep breath and throw the package into the garbage can--I dont remember recycling back then either. I was a young Assistant Prof. and he was an Emeritus Professor already. We got it published in what was my dream journal back then, but I thought he would never speak to me again. Yet, our friendship grew over the years.

Every Spring we would go to Myers Point to have a picnic with friends, and enjoy the sunset over Cayuga Lake. These pictures are from the last time we were there together. It was also the Spring we said good bye to Ithaca and moved to California.

I didnt know that Frank was a student at Deep Springs. Joan Ramon was also a student there for one year, and it was also a life changing experience for him. If we had known, they would have had plenty of more stories to share by the lake.

Frank was very proud of his sons and grandsons, and under the pretext that she was shy, he loved to brag about all the wonderful things that Lorrie did. I never thought you were shy Lorrie, but you knew very well how much he loved talking with friends and you let him enjoy every moment.
I was glad to see him again two years ago. We will miss Frank, and will not forget him.
A big hug,

Eunice Rodriguez May 1 2021 12:00 AM

Dear Lorrie and Family of Frank,

We will remember Frank well, and a colleague with an exceptional sense of humor. We are sorry for your loss, but we know that Frank will live on in your loving memories of him.

Max Pfeffer and Pilar Parra

Max Pfeffer Apr 30 2021 12:00 AM

Memories of/with Frank? It reminds me of the lab report that says, TNC!~ That is, too numerous to count, and it might just look like my autobiography!

It all began about 1964 in at least one of Franks early courses that later, as grad students, we called the March of Paradigms. It was enjoyable because he systematically set up strawmen and knocked them over with his evolving structural approach. It hooked me on the theory of change and a structural approach to understanding social dynamics. This became a substantial foundation for the remainder of my rural development career. His personality was a key to my graduate work. I went to him to explain what I wanted to do on my Masters thesis to ask if he would be on the committee. His response was, Ill tell ya what. If you do that, I promise that I will never read it! From that response I knew that I was on to something, formed a committee, and forged ahead. His articles were also thought provoking and I read them when overseas.

Some 40 years later, after working in Latin America, we sat down to go over a data set that Id assembled in Peru. By then he was into health outcomes. The indicators concerned community health, local development organizations and, yes, basic structural variables. He enjoyed the data and we published an article. It was over forty years since Id published an academic article!
I enjoyed years of conversation with Frank here in Ithaca. He will be missed, but the memories are enjoyable reminders of the last 50 years or so.

Kris Merschrod Apr 28 2021 12:00 AM

My deepest condolences to the families of Frank and Lorrie. Frank's passing is a tremendous personal loss and a loss to rural development sociology at Cornell in general. He was my "Rock of Gibraltar" in the world of Cornell academia; he understood and supported me when few people did. Thus my acknowledgment in my forthcoming book:

"Who paved my way to the Rural Sociology Department at Cornell University, became my doctoral committee chairperson, and protected and supported me during the events discussed in this book? Dr. Frank W. Young. From my bamboo hut in Ecuador to the halls of Ivy League academia, he understood and nurtured my non-academic orientation and defended my long activist absences against those who aimed to bridle my forays into Guatemala. He alone created the supportive base in our Department that allowed me to achieve what I could. I never had to choose between my doctorate degree and my passions. Indeed, without him opening doors of opportunity - from my acceptance application to my dissertation defense - again, this book would not exist. He did all this while, with his lovely wife Lorrie, making academia enjoyable with their many wine and BBQ dinner parties! I can never, ever give enough appreciation and will never forget them."

I trust he will read this, in his own way, and know how much I appreciated him and all he did for me in Warren Hall.

Paul Yamauchi Apr 27 2021 12:00 AM

Friends and Family uploaded 3 to the gallery.

Friends and Family Nov 30 -0001 12:00 AM