Cover photo for Gregory Scott Yarnik's Obituary
Gregory Scott Yarnik Profile Photo
1957 Gregory 2023

Gregory Scott Yarnik

September 20, 1957 — November 18, 2023


Memorial visitation for Gregory Yarnik, 66, of Palatine since 1993, formerly of Staunton, Illinois will be held Sunday, December 17, 2023, from 1:30 p.m. until the time of the Memorial Service at 4:00 p.m. at Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home, 201 N. Northwest Highway, Palatine.

Greg was born September 20, 1957 in Staunton, and he passed away November 18, 2023 in Arlington Heights on the afternoon of a beautiful sunset which his wife, Heidi, named, “The Greg Yarnik Memorial Sunset.” She asks that every November 18 th , Greg be remembered at sunset.

Greg was the beloved husband, best friend and permanent dive buddy of Heidi Hanson for 29.5 years. Greg and Heidi met at Illinois State University, Bloomington-Normal in 1981. After a prolonged courtship, Greg and Heidi married on July 29, 1994 at St. John’s Lutheran Church of Lincolnwood, Illinois. They spent their lives as educators with special emphasis on student’s enrolling in college and post graduate plans. Greg encouraged in Heidi a deep love and respect of the natural world both above and below sea level. Diving warm waters, and exploring out of the way islands was a lifelong passion. In recent years they began to travel more of the U.S. with New York City for theater to exploring Native American, Pueblos in the Desert Southwest.

Greg was the eldest son of the late, Arthur H. and Norma J. (nee Pervinsek) Yarnik; survived by 4 siblings, Val (Mark) Buffington of Staunton, Tim (Yolanda) Yarnik of Springfield, Phil (Shanna) Yarnik of Frisco, Texas, and Doug (Wendy) Yarnik of Staunton. In addition, Uncle Greg is survived by his 4 nephews and 6 nieces all of whom he enjoyed immensely and loved deeply.

Greg was a 1975 graduate of Staunton High School where he played baseball and began his love of the theater performing in school productions. He attended MacMurry College in Jacksonville, Illinois graduating in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in both Biology and Philosophy. Following this, Greg moved to Bloomington-Normal to attend graduate school at Illinois State University where in 1983 he earned a Master of Science Degree in Biological Sciences.

Greg Yarnik spent 37 years working for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District whose insignia reads, “Protecting Our Water Environment” above an image of Chicago’s lakefront. He retired as a Supervising Environmental Specialist on June 30, 2022 after a career of frontline work in protecting Lake Michigan and Chicago waterways and by extension the public health of Cook County residents. Greg also educated DuPage County residents through his 37 year long tenure as an adjunct Biology Instructor at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn.

Greg’s favorite sports to watch and enjoy were track, baseball and bicycle racing. He was an avid runner, completing 2 Chicago Marathons and Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. Greg and Heidi were fond of spending his birthday at Wrigley Field; he proudly wearing his Cardinals gear while Heidi wore Cubs!

Greg’s favorite way to spend Sunday morning was to meet at Mikes Bike Shop in Palatine and head out with the boys for a 30 mile ride. Very recently, Mikes Bikes completed assembly of Greg’s piece de resistance which is a hand sized, hand welded custom frame painted by Dario Pegoretti, an Italian bicycle framebuilder. Greg’s bike will be at his Celebration of Life on December 17 th .

Greg Yarnik was a true Rennaissance man. He was well-rounded; gifted, skilled and knowledgeable in many different areas. He was a voracious reader who collected orchids, nautilus and shark teeth fossils. Greg passionately read about, listened to and collected music with focus on Blues, Alt Country and Rock n’ Roll. His music collection rivals those of radio DJ’s. Greg and Heidi have seen well over a thousand live music performances from NYC to Kauai, Hawaii. Greg kept a log of every single show.

Greg Yarnik lived a life with emphasis on leaving this world a better healthier place. Even when faced with distributing his ashes, Greg’s decision showed his compassion to leave this world a better place. He chose Eternal Reef located in Florida. A recent Miami Herald article about Eternal Reef’s (4/19/2023) headline encapsulates Greg’s life, “Undersea memorials to loved ones also may help revive Florida’s dying coral reefs.”

An Eternal Reef is a permanent memorial that places the cremated remains in the ocean and creates new life as a reef habitat for fish, turtles and other forms of sea life including his favorite the Octopi as evidenced by his placement of an Octopus tattoo on his lower leg.

In lieu of flowers, memorials appreciated to the Go Fund Me Sight created by Heidi, Greg Yarnik Eternal Reef Fund c/o:

Greg loved to instill in his students, colleagues, family and friends a love of the environment and ways to protect it from harm. He was extremely well loved and popular amongst his students and colleagues. As one of them recently wrote, “He came from a very small town in Illinois and lived a very large life, “Salt of the Earth,” he made this world a better place.”

“Enjoy Every Sandwich” –Warren Zevon

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gregory Scott Yarnik, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Gathering

Sunday, December 17, 2023

1:30 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home

201 N Northwest Hwy, Palatine, IL 60067

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Starts at 4:00 pm (Central time)

Ahlgrim Family Funeral Home

201 N Northwest Hwy, Palatine, IL 60067

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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