A Tribute To William Penn "Billy" Yarbrough, Jr.
Robert Brown, Class of '63)
While attending the
Lyons High School 50ís and 60ís Reunion in November 2000 I began to
reminisce about some of the folks in Lyons that had an impact on my life.
There are many, but I began to focus on Billy Yarbrough and realized that
this man touched all of our lives as we came up through Lyons High School.
Billy loved Lyons High School and did so many things to support the school
and its students. I wonder if you all can respond to this posting and
provide some of your remembrances. Perhaps we can even have an article
published in the Lyons Advance Progress after we summarize all of
Some of my remembrances are given below:
I remember Billy being perhaps the most ardent
booster of the Bulldogs. I know that for years he attended all of the
games and filmed the game for the coaches. For a couple of years I had the
privilege of going with Billy and helping him do some of the filming. I
remember climbing to the top of some rickety grandstands and wondering if
we would survive the wind and the swaying structures at some locations!
Billy would post the score on the marquee of the Pal Theater.
I remember going to the Pal Theater to see a
number of movies (we used to say "picture show") during school
hours. The teachers would march us out of the building and down US 1 to
the Pal and we would have a great time seeing some pretty good shows like Samson
& Delilah, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, and others that Iím
sure some of you can remember. Billy would always be there to announce the
picture, welcome us, and then run the projector. As most of you know, Bill
was the manager of the Pal in Lyons and also provided technical support
for all of the Pal Theaters. Billy was a great electronics technician and
could fix just about any piece of electronics gear from TVs to short wave
receivers and transmitters.
On a real personal note, I remember the
invaluable guidance and support that Billy gave me when I got into Ham
Radio when I was about 12 years old. Being a Ham Radio operator and
getting a license required learning the Morse Code and passing an exam on
electronics theory as it applied to short wave radio communications.
Marion Carson helped me with the code and Billy helped me with the theory.
In particular, after I passed my general license at age 13, I began to
build radio transmitters and receivers. As they got more complex I needed
more help in debugging some of my circuits and Billy was always there to
get me out of trouble and to make things work.
Billy, Marion, and I had great fun together
talking by short wave to folks all over the world. Billyís call sign was
K4HAO ("Hamburgers And Onions"), Marionís was W4DWQ
("Ducks Without Quacks"), and mine was K4SEO (Silly Eager
The support, encouragement, and friendship Billy
provided for me at an early age greatly shaped my future career in
Electrical Engineering and Communications with Bell Telephone
Laboratories. For 24 years with AT&T Bell Laboratories I was
privileged to lead engineering teams that designed and launched the
Telstar Satellites in the 80ís and 90ís. Often when I was at Cape
Canaveral watching the Space Shuttle or an Atlas Rocket lift one of my
satellites into orbit I would think about my early days with Bill
Yarbrough and I would be thankful for his interest in me.
Now, I am working for Lucent Technologies and
lead a group designing high speed wireless communications to the Internet.
I wonder what Billy would think about the Internet if he were still with
us? Thank you Billy. I know I will see you in Heaven some day and we will
have a great reunion.
I am sure that many of you have your own
recollections of very positive experience with Billy Yarbrough. Please add
your comments to mine.
Robert Brown, Class of 1963
(Please submit any responses to me by email
and I will add them to this page ..... Webmaster.)
|(Posted by Becky Yarbrough, Class
of '60, only daughter of Billy Yarbrough)
Robert, that was the sweetest, most
heartwarming tribute that I could probably
every hear about my Daddy. He is probably shedding a tear right
now too, for, believe it or not, he was the most tenderhearted person
you could ever meet and wasn't afraid to show his tears. Thank you
so much for your kind words, it really means the world to me.
I know he probably
touched a lot of people in many different ways, for a lot
of them have told me so. For instance, whenever I am in Lyons sometimes,
I have had ladies that used to know us come up and say, "Did you
know that my children loved your Daddy so much, because when he was on
the mail route, he would bring them candy every day
and they would sit by the mailbox and wait
for him to come up the road?"
He certainly did
love that Lyons High School football team, better than us, I think!!
And remember when he had Lash LaRue and his horse up
on the stage in the picture show??!!! He used
to fix the front of the show up with all kinds
of sets that matched whatever movie was playing, I remember Ma and Pa
Kettle on the Farm, he had a real live fox in a pen and a chicken in
another pen next to him out on the sidewalk, a stalk
of corn was sticking out of the fox's pen,
and I think he had some eggs in the ROOSTER'S
pen!! ha ha!
I could just go on and on, and....did any of you
ever ride Trigger in your dreams?? I used to (before
I got old enough to sell tickets!!) get me a
seat at 10 AM on Saturday morning and not leave
the show except to go to the house and eat and watch Roy and Gene ALL
DAY LONG till 10 PM that night!! That was my lifelong ambition - to
be a cowgirl some day!! Oh well!!
Thanks again for honoring my Daddy like that and
sharing your memories with us. I'm glad that
he touched your life in such a positive way. I hope
everybody will be able to read this and share with us anything they
can remember, gosh, that picture show gave us a lot of good ole memories,
didn't it? Please let's everybody keep in
touch and let's thank Larry for giving us this
opportunity to re-live all of those good ole days. Thanks, Larry, for
all of your hard work, and thank you, Robert, for taking the time to
write to me.
Becky Yarbrough, Class of '60
|(Posted by Billy Yarbrough, Class
of '64, and oldest of three sons of Billy Yarbrough)
I was overwhelmed by you tribute to my father. I
guess I was too busy playing basketball behind the theatre with the boys
from the Pool Room to have paid much attention. I always knew you were
involved in ham radios but I never realized that my father and Marion
Carson were such a huge players in your life.
Marion taught me to swim at Starra's Recreational
Center and I think his basketball goal in his back yard on Lincoln Ave.
was the first basket of millions I have shot. And yes, you are right on
about the loves in my father's life. He loved ham radios, electronics, the
Pal Theatre, and especially, LHS and the sports programs.
One thing people never realized is that the
thousands of pictures he made of the school's club and sports activities,
he developed himself. He had a "dark room" directly over the
lobby in the theatre where he spent hours upon hours to develop them.
And don't even get me started about the Dawgs and
his love for the sports programs. One thing I remember most is how during
a football game, I would be in the stands and he would be filming the game
high up on the press box, the Dawgs would be on defense on he would yell
for God and everybody to hear, "Ya'll watch out!! He's gonna chunk
it!!" Everyone around me would laugh and pat me on the back. All I
could do is duck and cover!
Thank you for being such a good friend to my
father. I'm sure you and he formed a bond between the two of you because
of ham radios and electronics. At his funeral I remember there was a huge
flower arrangement that was shaped like the Booster Stadium scoreboard
that said "Heaven 7, Earth 0". That summed up my father's 53
years in Lyons, Georgia.
God Bless you,
Billy Yarbrough III Class of '65
|(Posted by Patsy Wilds
Wallace, Class of '67, who worked for several years selling
tickets at the Pal Theater.)
Yes, Robert, Billy Yarbrough was a great person. I practically
grew up at the Pal Theatre and with the Yarbroughs, not knowing I
would eventually be a member of the family.
In the summer of 1962 Mr. Yarbrough gave
me my first job. I thought selling tickets at the Pal was the best
thing I had ever done. I continued working at the theatre until I
graduated from high school in 1967. By that time I had met Mr.
Yarbrough's nephew, Bill Wallace from Valdosta Ga. He had come to
Lyons in the summer of 1963 for a one week visit with his uncle
and cousins (Mr. Yarbrough, Becky, Billy, Dale and Mitch.) He met
me and was in Lyons every chance he got until we married in June
of 1967 (What can I say, he was smitten over me!) That was over 34
years ago. So you see Billy Yarbrough was a big influence on my
Robert don't forget the movies Old
Yeller (1957), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and of
course Gone With The Wind (1939). Back then you could walk
down the streets without the worry of being mugged or molested.
Those were the days!
I think Billy Yarbrough touched many
hearts in his day. Thanks Uncle Billy for all you did for me.
Patsy Wilds Wallace, Class of '67.