Lighting specialist, former Proctor and Gamble pharmaceutical sales representative and Chicago Gay Men's Chorus alum Xavier Yager died Oct. 1 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in his home due to heart failure. He was 66.
Yager was born August 20, 1957, in Oak Park. The family moved to Hoffman Estates when Yager was two years old; he spent his childhood and teen years there. He graduated from James B. Conant High School in 1975.
Yager pursued his undergraduate degree at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas, where he received his BA in Psychology and Sociology in 1980. While in college, Yager was a member of the Sigma Alpha Sigma Social Fraternity and the Ouachita Student Foundation. He also received his Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology in 1982 from Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas.
After deciding against a career in psychology, Yager instead became a Proctor and Gamble pharmaceutical sales representative for 14 years.
In January 1996, Yager embarked on a career as a lighting specialist with his own company, MAX'D Lighting and Interiors, in Chicago which he ran for the next five years. For the next two years, he was a sales associate and lighting consultant for Active Electrical Supply Company in Chicago. He was a certified lighting consultant for Lightology both in Chicago and working remotely when he moved to Puerto Vallarta from 2002, where he lived until his death. Yager was also the owner of Xilumina Internacional in Mexico City, Mexico from June 2010-July 2012.
On Aug. 20, 2015, Yager married the love of his life, Luis Campos, in Mexico City, Mexico. They had an additional wedding celebration for their extended family members and friends in November of that same year.
Their love story began at an LGBTQ+ fundraising event in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2013. They ended up sitting next to each other at the same table and spent the entire evening together, including dancing. When they departed the event, Yager asked Campos for a kiss and he immediately kissed Yager on his forehead. This startled Yager in a delightful way and became the catalyst for their love story. They spent the next day together at the beach getting to know each other, and that is when Yager finally got the kiss on his lips that he wanted from Campos the night before.
From 1994 to 1995, Yager was a member of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus where he sang in three shows, among them Sidetrack: A Musical Review, in which he played Dolly Parton.
Yager is survived by Campos; son Tyler Carroll; daughter Sara Ross and her children Emery and Shiloh; mother Pat Yager Owen; siblings Doug (Mark Granath) Yager, Lecia (Mark Alfrejd) Yager Alfrejd and Mike (Donnette Stirmell) Yager; nieces and nephews; and countless chosen family members and friends. He was preceded in death by his father Marvin Yager.
Ross said of her father, "Despite the fact that Dad and I have always had a complicated relationship, one that is difficult to explain in detail to anyone who asks, the one thing I will always be able to say is that he was patient. He waited quietly, never pushing, for years for me to come around. He loved me from afar, even when I couldn't recognize it, and when I finally got outside of myself enough to allow him in, he loved me loudly and to the core. Over the last couple of years, he has been one of my biggest confidants. He became my friend, my ally and my Dad."
Carroll said of his father, "Xavier was my dad but also one of my best friends. He was kind, loved his friends and family with fierce loyalty, and was easily one of the most generous people I've ever known. I'm not sure what life will be like without him, but I know part of it will feel empty."
Doug Yager said of his brother, "I loved my big brother very much. I loved having you in my queer life while we both lived in Chicago. Our relationship grew over those years. Though we moved to new locations, I feel blessed that our friendship continued to grow despite the distance. You'll always be with me."
Longtime friend Dan O'Leary said, "I met Xavier the first day that I moved to Chicago 24 years ago and we instantly became friends. He's been an important part of my life, from our one on one weekly night movie time together to hosting big parties back in our courtyard. Xavier was always motivated to become a better person, and was driven to succeed and he did. He always showed nothing but kindness to me and anyone around him."
Hotel Mercurio Director General and longtime friend Paul Crist said, "Xavier was among the first visitors to my hotel when we opened almost 20 years ago. I was immediately attracted by his sharp wit and hilarious wisecracks on the vagaries of life. We became fast friends and he visited my hotel many times until he finally moved full time to Puerto Vallarta. I met his wonderful partner Luis, who later became his husband and eventually became an employee for several years at my hotel.
"In fact, when the wedding ceremony they planned in Vallarta was postponed due to a hurricane, and Xavier's son was unable to officiate the wedding on the revised date, Xavier and Luis asked me to officiate the ceremony. I had never done anything like that before. I was so nervous, and not only was I tasked with officiating, but also live translating their vows between Spanish and English. Most of Xavier's invitees didn't speak Spanish and most of Luis' invitees didn't speak English. It was a challenge, but it all went great. I will never forget how they arrived at the outdoor ceremony on two white horses, too much applause. I will cherish the memory of this wedding for the rest of my life. Xavier was such a unique and loving human being. I will miss him greatly."
Prior to his death, Yager asked that he be cremated with his ashes spread in the Pacific Ocean in front of the Blue Chairs in Puerto Vallarta.