The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 4, 2013

Margaret Yarbrough

— Margaret Louise Allen Yarbrough, 96, peacefully entered Heaven May 31, 2013.

Mrs. Yarbrough was a devoted wife, loving mother, proud grandmother, caring sister, supportive aunt, compassionate friend and a visionary leader. She was born in Athens on Sept. 30, 1916, to Dora and Clarence Allen. She was the eldest of five children. She confessed her belief in Jesus Christ at Little Ezekiel Church at age 12 and began sharing the love of Christ with everyone she met. She served our Lord with humility, honor, praise and a thankful spirit, while boldly proclaiming the gospel of Christ to all. Through her spiritual gifts of leadership, teaching, faith and love, she modeled the true meaning of Christianity. She exemplified the truth of James 1:22, which states, “Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only” as she served in several capacities at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. She was president of the Mother’s Board, teacher, treasurer and superintendent of the Sunday school, convention delegate to the Round Island Creek Association, and an avid fundraiser.

     Mrs. Yarbrough began her formal education in 1921 at Trinity School and continued there through the ninth grade. She attended Ensley High School in Birmingham for grades 10 through 12. Afterward, she returned to Athens and married a striking young man from Little Elk community, Leard Leo Yarbrough, on Oct. 5, 1935, and began a family farm. Eleven children were born to this union.

     Mrs. Yarbrough had a caring, helpful, generous spirit and was inclusive and loving to all. Her personality and love for people caused her to “never meet a stranger.” She welcomed, entertained and lodged children from her extended family, traveling ministers, and numerous members of the larger community. Her joy was making others happy. She often remarked, “The key to success is in living the Christian life.  I can’t see how people survive otherwise.”

     Mrs. Yarbrough’s passion was promoting education. After the death of her husband in 1975, she continued farming but began to pursue her passion with vigor. She embodied the ideology of Booker T. Washington in “lifting the veil of ignorance to promote the advancement of all people through education.” She and her husband demonstrated this heartfelt belief by implementing an ingenious plan of sending their 11 children to college during a racially oppressive and economically challenging time for African Americans. However, to her, education meant more than formal training. It included enhancing people’s understanding of politics, morality, citizenship, fairness in government, and equal opportunity for all. This was not only for her family but also for anyone she could influence.

     Mrs. Yarbrough was employed as a teacher’s aid in the Limestone County school system. She was a founding employee of the Home Visitation Program for Disadvantaged Families and the Child Development Center at Trinity School and Athens College. She was a member of the PTA for 34 years, the Council on Aging, and the Matrons’ Cultural Club of Athens. Her pre-eminent civic achievements included being instrumental in founding the Limestone County Chapter of the NAACP in 1969, being honored with the Alabama State NAACP Women in NAACP Trailblazer Award, and being recognized by the Limestone County NAACP with the initiation of an annual Margaret Yarbrough Award.

     She enjoyed fishing, gardening, quilting, cooking and especially traveling. She ventured across the United States to Hawaii and the Caribbean.

     She has now joined her husband of 40 years, her son Leard Yarbrough Jr., her parents and her three sisters, Wilsonia Allen, Maxie Stuart and Theotis Broadway.  Family members left to cherish her memory include her sister, Elaine (Charles) Nichols; daughters Doris (Charles) McShann, Vivian (Phillip) Paschel, Sandra (Arthur) Flippin, Brenda Jones, Frankie (Alex) Yarbrough-Gilmore, Ida Yarbrough and Margaret (Lloyd Ferguson) Yarbrough; sons Houston (Willie) Yarbrough, David (Isabel) Yarbrough and Willie (Valencia) Yarbrough; 17 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren, relatives and friends.

     Viewing will be from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, with visitation from 6 to 7 p.m. at Royal Funeral Home in Huntsville. The home-going celebration will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Little Elk Missionary Baptist Church in Athens. Burial will be in Little Elk Cemetery.