Willie James Yarbrough was born May 6, 1930 in St. Clair County, Ragland, Alabama. He was the third child of eight siblings born to Samuel S. Yarbrough, Sr. and Mamie Yarbrough.
He received his High School Diploma from New Town High School in Ragland, Alabama. He continued his education at Miles College, Fairfield, Alabama; Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University (A&M) in Normal, Alabama where he received a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in 1958, majoring in history, minoring in Physical Education and English. He furthered his education at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan and Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama where he earned a Master of Science (M.S.) Degree in Secondary Education in 1975.
He was employed by the Seaboard AirLline Railroad Company (Silver Comet train) in Ragland, Alabama. His 33 years of educational employment included: St. Clair County Board of Education, Calhoun County Board of Education, Thankful Junior High School, where he taught History, Physical Education and coached boy’s basketball, Saks Middle and High School, where he taught History.
He served in the United States armed forces from 1951 to 1953 and was stationed at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas where he received an honorable discharge. He loved hunting wild game, fishing, sports and playing dominoes. His sense of humor was expressed in all facets of his life. He was a member of many organizations and received many awards: Anniston area Chapter of AAMU Alumni Association, Epsilon Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.,Thomas A. Williams Elks Lodge #1668, Alabama High School Athletic Association 1965 – 1993, Certified Football and Basketball Referee, National Education Association (NEA life Member), Alabama Education Association (AEA), Calhoun County Education Association and Calhoun County Education Retiree Association. He was selected teacher of the Year at Thankful Junior High in 1962. At an early age, he joined Kites Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and later became an active member of Haven United Methodist Church. He was a member of the Board of Trustees, the men’s choir, the Christian Interest Group and the United Methodist Men. His civic duties included Randolph Park Voter Inspector and a licensed Deputy Sheriff in Calhoun County for 30 years. He was named honorary Public Service Commissioner.
On august 17, 1959, Willie was joined in holy matrimony to Carol Ann Cowser, and to this union three children were born. He leaves to cherish his loving memory: his wife of 59 years, Carol Ann Cowser Yarbrough; three children, Marlon Yarbrough, Marcia Yarbrough and Errol (Latrice) Yarbrough; grandchildren, Dedric Woolverton, Tayler Teague, Jasmine Navarro, Aviaon Navarro and Jaydea Navarro; one great granddaughter, Jouree LaShawn Woolverton; one brother, Johnny (Lenora) Yarbrough; one sister, Emma High; two sisters-in-law, Earline Yarbrough and Dr. Yvonne Cowser Yancy; two brothers-in-law, James Allen and Howard Dale (Maixne) Cowser; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends.
Willie James Yarbrough was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel S. Yarbrough, Sr. and Mamie Bell Yarbrough; siblings, Mable Yarbrough, Lenwood Yarbrough, Samuel Yarbrough, Jr., Vivian Allen and Melvin Yarbrough.