50 Influencers: Rich Yunkus, an all-time great

At six-foot-nine, it would be pretty easy to say that Rich Yunkus is a big deal. And, while he holds the all-time scoring record with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at 2,232 points, it’s his “assists” that have won him the admiration and gratitude of Rend Lake College.

Yunkus has gone above and beyond to support RLC, the Rend Lake College Foundation and his community.

The Benton native has served on the RLCF Board of Directors for almost 25 years. In 2013, he was recognized for his all efforts on behalf of the Foundation. Through his continuous work, massive strides were made in improving the lives of the district’s students.

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During his stint as RLCF Director, Yunkus was credited in being one of the driving forces behind making sure the RLC Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus had the ability to offer a complete degree program to eliminate the cost students take on from the trip to Ina and back.

In 2000, he became the ninth person to receive the Presidential Award from the RLC Foundation, for which he had served the previous seven years as a member of both the Finance and Nominating committees.

That year he also accepted the responsibility as money manager for the Foundation at no personal gain. Yunkus joined Edward Jones in 1996 as the Benton representative for an investment firm that has more offices nationally than any other offering financial services.

Yunkus thanked the Foundation for the award, stating, “You can’t help but see the Rend Lake College Foundation when you walk around campus. What a great group of people, and I love to work with all of them to help Rend Lake College. It’s with everyone’s help and support that we do what we can, and it’s an honor to be a part of this tremendous organization.”

Two years later, he accepted a limited partnership with the holding company for the St. Louis-based firm; approximately one-third of all associates are limited partners. Yunkus was enshrined into the State of Georgia Athletic Hall of Fame in January 1998, along with “classmates” Jackie Robinson, who was born in the Peach State before going on to stardom as the first black player in Major League Baseball; Morehouse College and Olympic hurdles champion Edwin Moses, NASCAR driver Bill Elliott and professional golfer Lyn Lott.

He is the first, and only, Georgia Tech student to be inducted into their Hall of Fame immediately upon graduating. A high school and college All-America pick, Yunkus is also a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.

YunkusHookWYunkus shows off the hook shot that helped him become the all-time scoring leader for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

The well-known Benton product also is active in his home community, holding memberships to the Benton Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Elks Club. Yunkus and his wife, Donna, are the parents of two daughters, Alicia and Lindsay.

At the time of his Presidential Award, Yunkus had played in the RLCF Golf Outing every year since its inception in 1981. He also volunteered as an instructor for financial classes associated with the Institute for Learning in Retirement and has spoken previously at the Warrior and Lady Warrior All-Sports Banquet.

Yunkus first stepped forward with a monetary donation to the “Generations of Excellence” Capital Campaign in February 1997, then pledged $10,000 more in December of that year for the RLCF Children’s Center and was the Director most responsible for encouraging the group to build the best facility possible,” according to then Foundation Executive Director Pat Kern.

“Rich has been actively involved with the Foundation Board of Directors since 1993.  Rich has been instrumental in cultivating very generous donations for Foundation capital projects and scholarships.  He is also a strong advocate for promoting the college and our facilities.  Rich is a go-getter and I am very grateful for his commitment to the foundation and the college,” said RLCF CEO Kay Zibby-Damron.

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