Merrill Yavinsky '65


Merrill Yavinsky ’65, former Bantam football standout, continues to make big plays for Trinity College. Yavinsky, a former captain on the squad, bleeds Trinity blue and gold. In the past ten years, he began a scholarship fund at the College for need-based aid, served two terms on the Board of Fellows, helped re-start the Trinity Club of Washington, and, most recently, established an endowed fund for the Bantam football team.

“Merrill is a great supporter of the Trinity football program,” Head Coach Jeff Devanney ’93 said. “Although he lives far away, he has taken the time to personally attend events that we have run to support our program and our players. He has enjoyed a lot of success in life in many ways and has strong feelings towards Trinity. He has chosen to give back generously to help our current student-athletes with their experience.”

Yavinsky was born and raised in Hartford, on Newbury Street, just a couple of blocks from Trinity, and attended Bulkeley High School before coming to the College. His humble roots not only help him keep a positive outlook on life, but keep him energetic and lighthearted.

“I was a townie that happened to be the captain of my football team,” he joked about his local connection.

When Yavinsky played football under legendary coach Dan Jessee, versatility was expected, as there were only 33 players on the squad, as compared to 75 today.

“There was no such thing as platooning in my day,” he said.
Yavinsky, who broke an arm and then a hand in a three-year span, played both quarterback and middle linebacker, a combination that you don’t find in your typical player anymore. But Yavinsky is far from typical.

While a student at the College, he was one of 13 rising seniors exposed to the insurance world through an internship with Connecticut General Life Insurance. The hard-working student was offered a full-time job upon graduation. It turned out to be a wise investment for Connecticut General, as Merrill was the same team player and standout that Trinity had gotten to know at the company until 1971.
Equipped with a track record of loyalty and a vast amount of knowledge in real estate and mortgages, Yavinsky relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where he managed a real-estate investment trust and then joined Walker and Dunlop, Inc. in Washington DC in 1974. There, he was the Vice Chairman for Green Park Financial, which accumulated a $5-billion portfolio by the time he retired on May 1, 2008.

As a retirement gift, his colleagues made contributions to the Trinity football endowment and the Yavinsky Scholarship trust in his honor. Yavinsky couldn’t have asked for a better gift, as it benefited the place that helped make him the person he is.

“All of my successes in life come from my education at Trinity,” he said. “The liberal arts education gave me the ability to think, organize, and to convey thoughts, and that has carried me through my life.”

That may be why Yavinsky began a fund at Trinity that gives students the same educational opportunities that he had. In fact, former Bantam cornerback Duane Tyler ‘05, now a volunteer on the football coaching staff and an employee of the Multi-Cultural Affairs office at Trinity, was a Merrill Yavinsky Scholar.

“The scholarship gave me one less thing to worry about,” Tyler said. “I could really focus on my studies and enjoy the experience.”

Tyler played basketball and football with Yavinsky’s son in the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland. Yavinsky makes no secret about his respect for Tyler and the respect is mutual.

“He is one of the most selfless men with one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever met,” Tyler said. “He is an extremely thoughtful and caring person…always willing to help anyone in any way he can.”

The connection with Yavinsky landed Tyler an interview, and eventually a job, at Green Park Financial. Tyler worked there for more than two years after graduation, before returning to Connecticut to be with his girlfriend, Trinity alumna Arlene Velez (’05), who is now his wife and a student at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Despite Tyler’s move back North, he and Yavinsky still keep in touch regularly.

“He was my boss, but I’ve always looked at him as more than that,” Tyler said. “He’s a mentor and a great, great friend. The respect is always there. He’ll always be a great friend.”

Tyler said Yavinsky had talked up Trinity long before Tyler even got to the decision-making point.

“He loves, loves, loves Trinity,” Tyler said.

The relationship between Yavinsky and Trinity is clear. It’s a bond that won’t fade.

There is too much loyalty. Too much love.

“That’s an incredible place,” Yavinsky recollected about his alma mater.

And that’s an incredible person.