A Lifetime of Dedicated Service & Honor Meet Eugene Yeates

If you were to write the autobiography of Lebanon resident Gene Yeates and take it to a Hollywood film producer, you might be met with a bit of skepticism.

“How can one individual accomplish all that in the course of one lifetime?” they would ask. The truth sometimes is indeed stranger than fiction! In the case of Gene Yeates, he leaves a legacy of incredible service fueled by patriotism and dedicated service to this great country we can call home. Just saying “thank you for your service” may not be sufficient in Gene’s case.

It will take a bit of time to dive into Gene’s incredible contribution, so read carefully. Gene was awarded the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal by the Director of Central Intelligence in 1995. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and was a resident of Orford, NH since 2000 before moving to Lebanon in 2017. He is a graduate of the Blake School, Harvard College, George Washington University, and the National War College. He worked nearly 50 years in the fields of intelligence and national security, including 30 years with the National Security Agency (NSA).

Gene with President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office

In 1992, Gene was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as Executive Director of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in the White House and was asked to stay on in that position by President Bill Clinton where he remained until 1995. Some key positions he held at NSA included: Chief, Office of Legislative Affairs; Director of Policy; and Associate Deputy Director of Operations. He also served with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and the Director of Central Intelligence’s staff in Washington, DC.

With all that behind him, how did this dedicated servant end up living in Lebanon? That is also an incredible saga by itself!

“I had an old friend who had graduated from Dartmouth College and he had first exposed me to this area,” Gene explained. Both of our wives were also longtime friends so when retirement arrived, we purchased homes ironically right next to one another in Orford, NH. Mine had been the former parsonage of the Congregational Church. We had to completely restore that before we moved in. Even though I came from Minnesota, I had always thought about retirement in New England to be close to our two daughters.”

At that point, life took a sadden detour for Gene and his best friend. Within a relatively short period of time both gentlemen lost their wives to lingering illnesses.

“There we were,” said Gene. “Two widowers living side-by-side in these beautiful homes. I finally put mine up for sale and moved to an apartment in Lebanon. I simply love the Upper Valley and all it has to offer. I currently serve as Chairman of Governance Committee for OSHER at Dartmouth College. This area has so much to offer!”

Gene as a young Naval officer

While reviewing Gene’s incredible career, one particular incident in American History stands out above all the others. On May 1, 1960 a U2 spy plane was shot down by the Soviet Air Defense while performing photographic reconnaissance for the United States deep in Soviet territory. That incident caused great embarrassment to the United States and marked deterioration in relations between the two countries. Gene saw the historic moment first-hand while serving as a Naval Officer at NSA.

“I was one of the very few Americans who knew what was going on while the event was actually occurring,” Gene said. “I participated that night in the preparation of the report that informed the CIA, the mission’s sponsor, along with the Defense Department, the State Department and the White House, as to what was happening. This was a heady and very educational experience for a young naval officer!”

These days, at the age of 84, Gene shows very little sign of slowing down, and he is known for his welcoming, warm smile that is capable of lighting up an entire room. He also has the reputation of a superb tennis player who loves the game with a true passion.