Share this article

print logo

James C. Yuhnke, longtime teacher, ‘Spam King’

June 15, 1946 – Feb. 17, 2016

James C. Yuhnke, of Buffalo, a retired teacher and longtime Boy Scout leader, died Wednesday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 69.

Born in Medina, he was a 1964 graduate of Lake Shore Central High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and master’s degrees in secondary education and special education from Buffalo State College.

Mr. Yuhnke began his career teaching social studies in North Collins, then spent two years at St. Vincent de Paul School in Buffalo before joining the Buffalo Public Schools. After stints at Kensington High School and Clinton Junior High School, he came to Lafayette High School in 1975, where he taught until 2001.

He first taught social studies at Lafayette, then worked with special education students and served as a fill-in vice principal. He set up an in-school suspension room that was a model for other schools in the city.

Known to all as Jim, he was a Boy Scout leader with Troops 107 and 102 and received numerous awards, including the District Award of Merit, the Silver Beaver Award, the Order of the Arrow Vigil Honor and the Founders Award.

He was champion of Spam, the canned meat product, and invented recipes for it. Scouts called him the Spam King.

“It’s the underdog of meats,” Yuhnke told Buffalo News food writer Andrew Z. Galarneau in 2011. “It doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so Spam can go anywhere.

He was an avid fan of the Bills, Sabres, Yankees and Duke University basketball. He collected wind chimes and garden gnomes.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, the former Renate Buechler; and a son, Erik.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday in Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave.