Yakez Lee Semark, who stepped into the cypher of life with compassion, conviction, loyalty, and a heart of gold, died February 9, 2018, in his hometown of Evanston, Illinois. He was 20.
Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on July 24, 1997, Yakez and his mom moved to the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago when he was 3 years old. They moved to Evanston when Yakez was entering the second grade, where he attended Dawes Elementary School and Chute Middle School. Yakez graduated from Evanston Township High School (ETHS).
During his time in Evanston public schools, he was known for his creativity, critical thought, kindness, and commitment to helping others winning recognitions such as the Ricky Byrdsong Citizenship Award at Chute, Student of the Month at ETHS, and Most Volunteer Service Hours award as an ETHS Student Ambassador. After high school, Yakez took several courses at Oakton Community College before pursuing full-time employment and renting his first apartment in Chicago, IL. He loved writing lyrics and poetry, creating music, taking photography and videos, watching videos and gaming, playing soccer, adding to his shoe collection, and most of all, sharing moments exploring life with his friends, his family, and his dog Dante.
Yakez Semark is survived by his loving mother, Evangeline Semark, and her partner Justin Cooper of Evanston; father, Brian Richards of Michigan; sister, Breyon Richards of Michigan; grandfather, Doug Semark, and bonus grandmother, Huikyong Song of California; two grandmothers, Cindy Semark and Linda Kingsbury, both of Michigan; four uncles and one aunt, Jeremiah and Jordan Semark; Quenton and Timothy Haithcox, Kimberly Baker, all of Michigan; six great grandparents, Osceola and Margrit Semark, Doris and Douglas Rath of Ohio; George Harold and Betty Bonney of Michigan.
He is also survived by a host of cousins, including Nate Bonney and Nick Zocher, great aunts & uncles including Roann Bonney, Bryan Zocher and Darryl Haithcox, & other family members as well as numerous close friends, neighbors, bonus mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brothers, & sisters, as well as an entire Evanston community that is committed to keeping his memory alive.
Yakez was preceded in death by his great-grandmothers, Marilyn Bonney, in 1995 and Lucy Haithcox in 2006; and grandfather, Vernon Richards, in 2003.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the family’s GoFundMe (link below) to help build a fund being established in Yakez’s name that will assist Evanston youth in achieving independence.