March 28, 2016
Uplifting end seen as fitting for Yaman
The typical funeral is known for being a somber affair: attendants are dressed in black; haunting dirges imbue the ceremony with a solemn aura.
However, Jim Yaman, the founder of the county’s largest real estate agency who died last week at the age of 96, was not typical, and family and friends who attended his funeral Saturday said the jovial atmosphere after his service seemed fitting.
The service lasted about an hour and around 9:30 a.m., a brass band playing gospel music followed pallbearers outside St. Mary’s Church on North Main Street as they loaded Yaman’s casket into the pearl-white hearse for the trip to St. Mary’s Cemetery on West Road.
Members of the Yaman family exchanged hugs and handshakes with friends and family before getting into the cars parked in front of the church and forming the funeral procession.
However, once the cars began traveling south on Main Street, the band changed from gospel music to a jazzy version of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and started walking along side of the procession in a scene reminiscent of a traditional New Orleans second line parade.
Led by a police escort, the procession made its way down the street. Pedestrians stopped, and some clapped or tapped their feet to the tune. The band would continue to play long after the line of cars rounded the corner.
After the burial, David Yaman, Jim Yaman’s son, said his family has always had a deep appreciation for music and the marching band was an attempt to incorporate that into a celebration of his father’s life.
“There’s a lot of music in our family. The feeling was we’ve mourned and in the end we wanted to rejoice,” he said. “It was a good send off.”
During the service Jamie Yaman, Jim Yaman’s grandson, brought his saxophone with him and played his grandfather’s favorite song, “Amazing Grace.”
Jamie Yaman said his grandfather appreciated how music could touch people.
“I had watched my grandfather weep to that song dozens of times,” he said. “He knew that those types of songs were the strength that pulled people through difficult times. I think he pulled a lot of strength from it.”
Jamie recalled that when he and his grandfather used to go to the Apple Jazz Music Festival, where Syracuse-based musician and entertainer Ronnie Leigh performed the song that would move his grandfather to tears.
Leigh was one of the people who stopped by Jim Yaman’s home on Hickory Lane in Cortland to attend the reception.
“I knew I wanted to be here with the family,” said Leigh, who met Yaman 26 years ago when he was asked to play during a Christmas party.
“He (was) always a great supporter, always encouraging,” he said. “You couldn’t go wrong with the guy. He was just a kind soul. A more befitting sendoff, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one.”
Charbel Karam, owner of Pita Gourmet, and another one of Jim Yaman’s longtime friends, was a pallbearer.
“It was more like a parade for Jim,” he said. “The music was beautiful. I felt like I was in a presidential walk and I was so proud to be a part of it.”
Karam said the service helped remind residents to honor Jim Yaman’s memory, but all they have to do is look at the indelible mark on the community he has left behind.
“Instead of being so sad about his departure from earth to heaven, I think we’ve made it very clear despite his passing away, ... his soul’s going to be around us every day,” he said.
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