Rev. Christopher D. Yambar 1961-2021
YOUNGSTOWN — After a long battle with various health issues, the Rev. Christopher “Chris” D. Yambar, age 59, received the Ultimate Healing and went to be with his Savior, Jesus Christ, on Saturday, March 27, 2021.
Chris was born July 4, 1961, in Youngstown, a son of the late David and Gladys McBride Little Van Dyke Yambar. He was a 1979 graduate of Fitch High School and a proud member of the Mahoning County Joint Vocational School Class of ’79 (Salute to you, George!). He later attended Youngstown State University, majoring in art and education; obtained certification in evangelistic theology from the Evangelical Church Alliance; and subsequently obtained licensure as Reverend from Faith Temple of God.
Chris was called to the ministry at age 19 to work with inner-city youth as House Director of the Christ-centered drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, LAMB’s House, in Youngstown, which positively impacted many lives over a period of several years. Along with his wife, Maureen, and a few close associates, he published Manna Underground Press / The Activist, a newspaper specializing in arts, music, and social commentary, from 1982 to 1989. At its last printing, it had readership in 17 countries and had inspired thousands in their Christian walk and in their understanding and appreciation of the arts. He was a church planter and co-pastor at various churches and fellowships in the area over a 25-year period. Chris was blessed to spend seven years with the Chaplain Corps in the Youngstown Police Department, serving as its head for two years.
Demonstrating his art prowess at a very early age, Chris self-published a comic book with his friends when he was 12. His graphics skills honed at MCJVS, he freelanced as a graphic designer upon graduation. Chris began painting in the Neo-Pop Art style in the late 1980s and had his first one-man show at The Butler Institute of American Art in 1989. He was very pleased when it was held over for an additional month due to its popular Batman Retrospective theme. In 30 years, he created over 5,000 paintings and participated in countless shows, both public and private at his Banana Rodeo Gallery, which he owned and operated in the early- to mid-1990s. He amazingly created 1,000 of those paintings in a 4-year period after he became ill. His work is exhibited in museums and owned by Presidents, entertainers, and private collectors across the U.S.
In 1994, Chris created the now-iconic beatnik cartoon character, Mr. Beat, a man who loved jazz, coffee, and all things Beat. Chris resumed self-publishing comics as a result of this beloved character’s popularity, he ultimately created many other characters, and collaborated with several individuals and comics producers over a 25-year period. In 2000, Chris was informed that Mr. Beat had caught the eye of Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, and was hired as a writer for his comic book line. Chris wrote the lead story in the premier edition of Bongo’s Bart Simpson Comics and went on to write for several of their comic book titles over the course of 12 years. In 2020, he resurrected Richard Outcault’s historic Yellow Kid character and self-published a comic book in honor of the Kid’s 125th birthday.
Chris loved traveling across the country, attending comic book conventions, and signing copies of his books for fans. (“Buy mulitples!”) To say he was a People Person is an absolute understatement. He always wanted his friends and associates to be successful in their endeavors and did his best to assist them in reaching their goals. He had the most generous heart, always looking for opportunities to help anyone and everyone and quietly providing for people’s needs without fanfare. His now-famous “Be encouraged!” could often be heard around the country! Once, as a friend expressed his dissatisfaction regarding the expenses associated with attending comics conventions, Chris quipped, “Well, I could have a FREE convention right here in my front yard!” Thus Lawn-Con was born. It was a hugely popular annual event in his beloved city for five years.
In the mid-2000s, he began lecturing at colleges, universities, and art schools across the United States. It was a pleasure for him to meet young people and share with them his Secrets of Success. His magnetic personality always made him the life of the party. Chris believed that one cannot “separate the sacred from the secular,” living his life as one complete expression of faith in his heavenly Father and praise for his Savior. He believed that there was no higher praise than to use his talents for God and to stand back and watch His use of him “as a conduit” to help transform or uplift others. Considering service to be a natural overflow of his faith, Chris served on several Boards and committees over the years and received numerous distinctive honors, which he accepted humbly and graciously.
Chris leaves to forever cherish his memory his best friend and wife, the former Maureen Grapes, whom he married Oct. 1, 1982; brother, Tim Yambar; sisters, Katie Davis and Sharon (Alan) Lasick; sister-in-law, Kris Gregory; nieces, Jana Davis, Sarah Fisher and Leah Gregory; nephews, Justin Davis, Brandon Davis and Joe Vaught; the greatest great-nieces and great-nephews anyone could ask for; and his many, many beloved friends.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his aunt; three uncles; and mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law.
There will be no public services at this time, but a “Chris-centric” celebration will take place in July. Maureen asks that you honor Chris by doing or saying something to encourage someone today. Those who wish to make a material tribute may donate to their local food bank or the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley in Chris’s name.
Arrangements by Cremation & Funeral Service by Gary S. Silvat, Inc. Share memories or send condolences by visiting www.cremateohio.com.