Tribute to B. Yarbrough

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A Tribute To William Penn "Billy" Yarbrough, Jr.

Billy Yarbrough, Jr.

(Posted by 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 the responses.

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 Oldmaids).

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.

Love you,

Becky Yarbrough, Class of '60

(Posted by Billy Yarbrough, Class of '64, and oldest of three sons of Billy Yarbrough)

Dear Robert,

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 life also.

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.

Billy Yarbrough, Jr.