A well-known and respected Stanislaus State Biology professor was found deceased in Yosemite National Park on June 25.
The body of James Youngblom, 64, was found in LeConte Falls. He had been hiking alone from White Wolf up the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River to the Glen Aulin trailhead, according to the Yosemite National Park Service.
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of death and are looking to speak with anyone who may have seen Youngblom in the area of White Wolf, Pate Valley or the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River between June 22-25.
Youngblom and his wife Janey, who is a retired professor of genetics, started their careers at Stanislaus State in 1990. His hard work and dedication to his field aided Youngblom as he moved up the academic ranks and was promoted to professor in 2008. He was appointed department chair in 2017.
"Jim was a great department chair in the Department of Biological Sciences and one of the kindest people I've known," said College of Science Dean David Evans. "He loved his job and worked incredibly hard. His focus was always on students. Our hearts go out to all Jim’s friends and family at this difficult time.”
His impact on students was apparent as some took to social media to express their sadness over his passing.
"Dr. Youngblom was an incredible research mentor and instructor," wrote Tricia van Laar on Facebook. "I’m so sorry to learn of his loss. My sincerest condolences to Janey and their kids."
"I am so sorry to hear this terrible news," Janie Soto wrote on a Facebook post regarding his passing. "20 years ago, I took one class from Dr. Youngblom and found him to be so knowledgeable and thoughtful in his presentations. Such a great loss to the community and of course his family. My condolences to all."
Youngblom was set to begin a faculty early retirement program in fall 2021 and planned to transition to serve as department chair part-time. He was to be awarded the status of Emeritus Professor of Biology in the fall.
In a statement released by the university, Youngblom was remembered for being a "dedicated advocate for his department, colleagues and their students." The university said he was an inquisitive scientist whose research expertise focused on genetics and DNA technology. The also said he was an avid outdoorsman who loved to ski, hike and fish.
"He loved his job and was eager to share his passion and enthusiasm for science and discovery with young scholars,' the university said.
The university said counseling services are being made available. Students can contact Psychological Counseling Services on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 209-667-3381 to request counseling and related services. After-hours support and resources are also available by calling the main number and pressing the number “2” when prompted.
Anyone with information about Youngblom's last days in Yosemite are asked to call (888)-653-0009 or visit www.nps.gov/ISB.