In Memoriam: Dr. Richard Yennie 4.98/5 (42)

Richard Yennie, DC, L.Ac

Have you ever heard of Dr. Richard Yennie? I bet many of you have, and those of you who haven’t may be surprised to find major parts of your acupuncture lineage traced back through this amazing man.

Dr. Yennie was a friend, mentor, and teacher to thousands in the acupuncture profession and a benefactor and ardent supporter of acupuncture in America. He was also my friend. He passed away October 11, 2013 at age 85.

Who was Richard Yennie?

Richard was a typical American kid, who became fascinated with all things asian as a young man. He learned Japanese as a teenager and ended up serving as a military translator in Japan in the aftermath of World War II. While there, he also studied Judo, and was injured in a Judo match. After weeks in a military hospital with no improvement, Richard’s Judo instructor brought in an acupuncturist to treat Richard. (Because acupuncture had been outlawed by General McArthur, the acupuncturist smuggled the needles in the sleeve of his kimono.) Richard responded to the acupuncture treatment and was out of the hospital in a few days.

This experience planted the seed that would ultimately change acupuncture in America forever.

Professional History

After his military service, Richard taught and practiced martial arts, opening several schools. But he felt his true calling was in healthcare. Because there were no acupuncture schools in America in those days, he enrolled in chiropractic school, it being the closest related field he could find. He opened his private practice in 1961.

In 1968, Dr. Yennie founded the Acupuncture Society of America, which was the first professional acupuncture association in the USA (NCCAOM was founded in 1982.) During the 1960s and 1970s Dr. Yennie brought in the best teachers and healers from China, Japan, and Korea to teach acupuncture classes to healthcare professionals in the chiropractic, medical, osteopathic and veterinary fields. This was before there were any professional acupuncture laws or licensing in any U.S. state.

In 1974, Dr. Yennie testified before the Nevada state legislature as an expert consultant to help establish the first acupuncture practice law in the U.S. Many other states followed, and many consulted with Dr. Yennie in crafting their laws.

As you might imagine, Dr. Yennie also treated numerous celebrities and government officials (including a U.S. president) at his Kansas City clinic. His fame spread far and wide, and he received every award imaginable, including Acupuncturist of the year and Chiropractor of the year from his colleagues in professional associations. Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin, he led numerous study trips to China to help practitioners enrich their acupuncture understanding.

He actively taught acupuncture classes for nearly 40 years, blessing the lives of thousands of practitioners, and likely millions of patients. He also continued to practice acupuncture and chiropractic all the way to the end. “Retire?” he would say, “NO, re-FIRE!” He never lost the fire and love of helping others and teaching acupuncture.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Dr. Yennie, almost singlehandedly, introduced professional acupuncture into the U.S. and ensured its growth and survival. His efforts and classes predate every acupuncture school in this country. He truly is the Father of Acupuncture in the U.S.

How my Friend Richard Saved AcuGraph

But beyond his professional achievements, Dr. Yennie was a friend. He is also largely responsible for the survival and success of my company, the growth of AcuGraph, and ultimately, the fact that you are reading this.

When I first developed AcuGraph in 2002, and began sales in 2003, it was very difficult to get much attention for the product. I was a one-man operation, funding everything myself and still in school as well. My goal was to sell 10 AcuGraph systems. Total. Ever. If I did that, I figured I would at least be able to pay back what I borrowed to get started and I could walk away from the experiment.

I had reached out to a big name in the acupuncture industry, but was harshly rebuffed and left quite despondent. Then someone recommended I reach out to Dr. Yennie.

He was teaching a class in my area, so I attended the class and told him what I was doing. Immediately he insisted that I demonstrate AcuGraph to the class, and he gave his endorsement. He also invited me to Kansas City to present to his other classes, where he again heartily endorsed AcuGraph.

Because of his support and encouragement, as well as his recommendation, I was able to keep going and surpass that 10 AcuGraph milestones I had so prematurely set. He made all the difference for me, and if you’re a customer, he made the difference for you as well because he gave me the hope to keep going and building AcuGraph to where it is today.

But that was just Richard. He had the unique ability to make everyone feel important. He didn’t care that I was a student and he was the master. And he was an example of respect and kindness to all.

Because of how Dr. Yennie treated me when I was still a student, I made a vow that I would always treat students with respect and consideration. If you are or were a student and you got special treatment from my company, you can thank Richard Yennie, as do I.

I mourn his passing. I miss my friend. His classes were amazing, his wisdom was legendary, and his love touched thousands upon thousands of people.

I had the privilege of speaking at his life celebration on Friday. It was attended by several hundred grateful colleagues, students, friends and loved ones. I was awed by the sheer number of lives he had touched in a personal way as a healer, mentor, advocate and teacher. His legacy is incredible and still grows. If you are reading this, you are one of the direct beneficiaries of his legacy as well.

Words simply cannot express my appreciation of and gratitude for Dr. Richard Yennie, nor am I capable of expressing a fitting tribute. But I have to try, so I’ll close with the final words from my address at his service.

“Richard, for believing in me when few did, for giving me the hope to keep trying, and for teaching me one of life’s most valuable lessons, I will forever be in your debt. Godspeed on your journey, my friend.”


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Dr. Adrian Larsen

Adrian P. Larsen, D.C., F.A.S.A., C.Ac. Dr. Larsen is President of Miridia Technology Inc., and one of the developers of the AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging system. He currently divides his time between research, product development, and teaching. Dr. Larsen also holds certifications in Applied Kinesiology and CPK, and has specialized training in SOT and craniopathy. He, his wife, and 7 children reside in Meridian, Idaho.

13 Replies to “In Memoriam: Dr. Richard Yennie

  1. Thanks so much for posting this…I had not heard of his passing.

    Dr. Yennie was my first mentor in acupuncture, while still a student at Palmer in the late 70’s. I also spent 2 days in his clinic while we treated my daughter in 1987.

    He was a special man that had a lasting influence on my life.

  2. I too was at the life celebration for Dr. Yennie. I appreciated your heartfelt comments as well as those of all the others. He truly was a great man-an inspiration. Let’s continue to help as many people as we can, at all the times that we can, and all the ways that we can!

  3. Thank your for letting us know about passing of Yennie. I was not aware of this. I have been to a number of his seminars over the years. He will be greatly missed. I am so greatful and thankful for what he did for acupuncture in this United States. In fact I think it was at one of his seminars at Logan that you introduced me to the acugraph. For this, I thank you!

  4. Thank you for sharing that about Dr. Yennie. What a great tribute to him … He definitely has made an impact on my practice. I took his acupuncture courses in Kansas City 15 years ago. He was an amazing teacher and I’m so grateful that I was able to learn from the best. My mentor had the mens-o-matic microcurrent machine that Yennie referred him to years ago, and because of them both I’ve had one for 20 years. We also had your very first Acugraph system where we recorded the numbers by hand and made our own graphs. I had no idea that Yennie helped you with this product. I’m Pretty sure he taught us about it in my classes years ago.

    Thank you for all you have done. And thank you Dr. Yennie for bringing us acupuncture to America.

    Dr. Lisa Staudt

  5. Dr. Yennie was my first acupuncture professor. I took a 100hr certification program with him while training at Parker University of Health Sciences. What an amazingly passionate man. He will be missed.

  6. I knew Dick from the first class offered in America. Taught by Dr. Eric Tao from Tiawan. Taught in conjunction with the original group know as “Clinc Masters”.That was in 1973. Dick picked up acupuncture and made that to be his “cause celebrae”…and yes—he did it well through all of those years.

    You are right…he was one of the great pioneers in our beloved profession.

    We were all blessed by being his friend.

    Dr. Bob Thatcher
    ST. Paul MN

  7. Dr. Dick Yennie. An Icon of acupuncture in our time. He blessed so many by the instruction he shared or the treatment he rendered.

    We have all been blessed by being in his company.

    Dr. Bob Thatcher
    St. Paul, MN

    1. Dr. Dick was truly an Icon of Acupuncture. Whether at the podium of education or the side of the inform….His love of our beloved profession emanated from every word he shared.

      Those of us who knew him were uncommonly blessed by being his

      The words Dr. Adrian shared at the service were so well chosen

      Rest well, Richard Yennie….thank you for being that special person.

      Dr. Bob Thatcher
      St. Paul, MN

  8. I too was a student of Dr. Yennie’s over many years. Met him as a member of Pinnacle Management.

    Simply amazing……..

    Why is it that so many do not know of his passing , hope someone can access his email database and let everyone know.

    Dr. Curt Kuehl
    Pierre , South Dakota

  9. Thanks, Dr. Adrian, for sharing the great story about Dr. Yennie. After reading your heartfelt article, I have tremendous respect for his contribution to the Acupuncture profession in USA, as well as AcuGraph, even though I am a Chinese trained Acupuncturist.

  10. I am so sad to find out i lost one of my biggest mentor in the field of AP. Please let me know the caouse of his death. I always thought he very healthy. Thank you.

  11. DR.Richard Yennie ,
    Richard’s presence, I believe, will always be with me . He became like a 2nd Father to me as I was about 13years youngover the years .He convinced me of the philosophy that if you can find and make a living with passion and the skills God gives each and everyone of us you are bound for success and spiritual happiness . . As it is true that he spoke a variety of languages , his universal message was always Love Yourself , and Make the Right Choices
    He encouraged his son Richard Charles and Myself to pursue our dreams in music
    with our little rock-n roll band and at least try to be the BEST Band we could….. (Even DR. Yennie himself learned the Piano in later years ) . When he spoke at a conference or at a Spiritual Center one always would be captivated feeling shivers of truth running down one’s spine and felt he was speaking directly to you. So , Rest High on the Mountain , Sir Richard the work here for you is done
    and done like God Always had Planned for you

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