Fishburne Military School Mourns Passing of Giant in School History

Joseph Byron Yount III, Esquire, Trustee and life-long supporter of Fishburne Military School, dies at 76

Joseph Byron Yount III, Esq. (1939-2016)Waynesboro, VA – Joseph Byron Yount III, 76, former Waynesboro mayor and longtime city attorney, well known for his half century of board leadership at Fishburne Military School and as a local historian, speaker, and writer, died Sunday October 2, 2016.

A corporate and estate planning attorney, Mr. Yount represented the former Crompton Company for many years and was also a long-time partner in the firm of Edmunds, Willetts, Yount and Hicks. He was a city councilman for five years and was the second-youngest mayor in Waynesboro’s history. He later served as city attorney for twenty-five years including twelve with the additional duties of city planner. Forty years after being admitted to the Virginia State Bar he had passed the planning examination and been named to the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Mr. Yount was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Fishburne-Hudgins Educational Foundation in 1967 and served until his death, including ten years as vice president, twenty as president, and after 1999 successively as vice chairman and chairman. From 1984 he was a director of the University of Science and Philosophy (founded at Swannanoa by Walter and Lao Russell) and its chairman after 1992 as the organization expanded to worldwide scope through its publications and scientific symposiums (

A member of many historical and patriotic organizations, Mr. Yount was past president of the Augusta County Historical Society and the Augusta County Bar Association, trustee and past master of Lee Lodge No. 209, A.F. & A.M., a life member of the Waynesboro NAACP and the Pennsylvania German Society, and elder for several terms at First Presbyterian Church. He was a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International and in Charlottesville a member of Farmington Country Club for over sixty years and a member of the Red Land Club and the University of Virginia’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

His first book, the 1973 Tunker House Proceedings, described the Brethren peace witness through two centuries of a Rockingham County homestead. Better known was his 2004 Remembered for Love, a 500-page biography of Lao Russell of Swannanoa published by Howell Press and still in print. In addition, he wrote a History and Heritage of Fishburne Military School and dozens of articles on local history and related subjects for publications as varied as the Virginia Masonic Herald, Brethren Life and Thought, the Fishburne Military School Quadrangle, and the Augusta Historical Bulletin.

He was popular as a speaker before area forums and delivered keynote addresses at the dedication of the new Masonic Temple, the centennial of the Waynesboro Public Library, the Waynesboro Rotary Club’s 75th anniversary gala, the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Waynesboro, and the semi centennial of Professor James Abbott Fishburne’s death. He also produced several widely-attended historical series on the history and origin of Waynesboro’s First Presbyterian Church and regularly participated at graduations and other ceremonies at Fishburne Military School where he annually addressed new cadets and incoming cadet leaders on Fishburne history and traditions.

He was well-known for his interest in the English poet and freedom fighter Lord Byron, whose name he bore, had served as president of the American Byron Society, and in earlier years regularly participated in European meetings of the International Byron Society. He had an extensive collection of Byron-related books and artifacts including a rare original bust of the poet made by the Italian artist Bordolini in 1822.

Mr. Yount was born in Charlottesville on November 17, 1939, the son of the late attorney Joseph B. Yount, Jr., and the former Courtney Pelter. His only sister, JoAnn Yount, preceded him in death, and his only survivors are cousins. He was proud of his three godsons, Alfred Lincoln Browne III of Boston, Mass., Humes Jefferson Franklin III of Fishersville, and Richard Peters Dudley of Charlottesville.

After graduation from Bethany Lutheran School and Fishburne Military School (Class of 1956), he received his college and law degrees at the University of Virginia and served several years on active duty as a United States Army counterintelligence officer before returning to Waynesboro to practice law.

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church conducted by the Rev. George Chapman III. Honorary pallbearers will be trustees of the Fishburne-Hudgins Educational Foundation and members of Lee Lodge No. 209, A.F. & A.M., as well as the Fishburne Military School Color Guard. A private burial with Masonic and full military rites will be conducted by the local Masonic lodge and Fishburne Military School at Riverview Cemetery with Rev. Chapman’s assistance. Dates and times of public services will be announced.

Fishburne Military School is the oldest and smallest of all military schools for boys in Virginia. Its college-prep curriculum is built upon the structure of an Army JROTC program. FMS is designated as a JROTC Honor Unit with Distinction and may nominate qualified candidates to the United States Service Academies. Fishburne hosts one of only four Summer JROTC programs in the nation, accredited by US Army Cadet Command.