Gail James Yoakum

Areas of Achievement: 

Honored By

Honored by: John M. Yoakum
Date submitted: September 05, 2007
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Gail James was born into a military family and lived in many places before coming to Tucson for her high school sophomore year. Her father, Dr. Newton E. James became Director of the UA Student Service Bureau at that time. She had a goal of being a journalist. She graduated from Tucson High School and finished three years of study in Journalism and competed on the UA Debate Team [other team members included future US Senator Jon Kyl]. She met a fellow student, became pregnant, and left college to marry and raise a family (It was 1964 and people did that in those days). Eight years later, her husband, Capt. David Yoakum was killed in combat in Vietnam. Gail then became a widow with two young children and few prospects.

When the Arizona Daily Star called her for a quote from her perspective as a war widow, she asked to write her own article. The paper agreed, printed the article, and then hired her as a reporter. She worked as a journalist for five years, raising a family, while completing her BA in Journalism at the UA. During that time, she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in news reporting. During that time, she also sponsored a Vietnamese family and assisted in their relocation to the US.

After leaving the Star, Gail Yoakum completed her MBA in Finance and was granted her CPA credential. In the last twenty years of her life, she successfully ran her own art publication business. ArtLife, published from Tucson, became her passion. It was a compilation of articles and photographs of art galleries, art museums, and artists. There was always a southern Arizona edition, Other editions were published in northern and central Arizona, Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and Seattle.

Many of her employees went on to bigger and better careers after their experience at ArtLife. Gail continued to publish and operate her business through good times and lean times. ArtLife never ceased to publish in her lifetime and she was at her desk working when she became sick and taken to the hospital in her final illness. Her two children continued ArtLife for another year after Gail was incapacitated.

Her two children also received Master's Degrees of their own, and are successful in their careers.

Gail collected art, traveled, and spent as much time as possible with her adult children. Gail made much of her life because of her own talents and achievements. She was also greatly helped along the way by her experiences at the University Of Arizona.