Thursday, February 11, 2021

MY Black History #2 - My Daddy, Arthur P. Yarborough

The majority of this post is going to be an update to a previous post, which was written on October 4, 2016, which was 19 years to the day that I'd lost my father. Please click on the links to read more about my dad, from previous posts I've written. Thanks!

Arthur P. Yarborough
June 21, 1924 - October 4, 1997

Introducing... Arthur P.
My father, Arthur Person Yarborough, was born June 24, 1924 to parents Anna Beatrice Green and Calvin Yarborough, Jr., in Louisburg, North Carolina. He was the couple's third (and last) child, together, and was named for his father's employer, Arthur Person. Arthur lost his father at the age of 4, to tuberculosis. He spent his early years in the Franklin County School System, but was sent to live with his uncle, during his teen years, and graduated from the Nash County Training School, in 1942.

Nash County Training School, Class of 1942
That's my dad at the top with the open-mouthed smile. :)

"Arthur P.," as he was usually referred to, married a hometown girl, Novella Alston, in 1947. They married in Florence, SC, which I believe must have been where my father was stationed at the time. Most of the details of this marriage are unknown to me, but I'm told that Novella deserted the marriage sometime after my dad adopted my brother, Henry, when they were in Okinawa, Japan. (Or, maybe it was right after they got back to the States.) They were formally divorced in 1958. Sometime in the mid-50's, when my father was in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, he met a beautiful young divorcee and single mother at the Officers' Club at Fort Story. They quickly fell in love and were soon married, after which Arthur's new bride left her teaching job and home in Virginia to join him in Bremerhaven, Germany. That young lady was my mother, Mary Anne Yarborough, who you can read about, here. Their (eventually tumultuous) marriage lasted 20 years and produced two children, to make a total of four little Yarboroughs. 

My dad with his two boys, Edgar and Henry, shortly after marrying my mom.

And then there were six...

23 Years Without My Dad
My father has been gone since October 4, 1997 - exactly 23 years, 4 months, and 6 days. I love and miss him, immensely. Before his death in 1997, I’d dibbled and dabbled a bit in genealogy, however, it was when faced with the task of writing my dad’s obituary that I realized how little I knew about him and his life “pre-Renate”, and I certainly didn’t know anything of his family history. And, so it was with his death, and the need to write his obituary, that I consider my real beginning as a genealogy researcher. I started my quest to learn as much as possible about my father , and subsequently my YARBOROUGH ancestry, which was soon followed by all of my other family lines.

That's me with my dad on his 65th birthday.

I Didn't Know...
There was so much I didn’t know about my father before I became a researcher. I didn’t know that about his distinguished military career – about all of the honors and recognitions he’d received, as he worked his way to the rank of Army Major, before he retired in 1964; nor was I aware of the racism he faced while on that journey. I didn’t know anything about the Montford Point Marines, or of the two-plus years my father spent as one of the first to integrate the US Marine Corps, at the beginning of his military service. I'm proud to have received the Congressional Gold Medal, on my father's behalf (posthumously), under the authority of President Barack Obama, in 2015.

Dad, the military man. Date unknown, but early in his career.

I don't know what's going on here, but what I do know is that everyone's attention is on my Daddy!

 I didn't know that, before he joined the military, my father spent a year as a student at NC A&T; nor did I know that he continued to complete college coursework while in the Army, excelling in all of his classes, and stopping just short of earning his degree. He also earned a certificate as an Army Surgical Technician!          

I think the pic on the left is Marines and I know the one on the right is Army. 
The bottom shows the medal again, with his Marine and Army dogtags.
I didn't know what a fantastic writer my father was, until I happened upon love letters he'd written to my mother before they were married, and editorials he'd written to an Ohio newspaper, when he was stationed outside of Cleveland (where I was born).                                               
I didn't know that my father had 2 half-sisters and a half-brother, all of whom were deceased before I was born, and that I had a first cousin, born the same year as my dad, who lived in the Bronx and just passed a few years ago. I didn’t know that my father played basketball in high school, and was the quarterback of his football team at Nash County Training School. I didn’t know that the reason my father had to move to Nash County to live with his uncle (the principal of Nash County Training School) was because he was acting up in school, and his mother (widowed since my dad was 4) needed some help with him!
That's my daddy - #10! Where are his kneepads?
These are just a few things I didn't know about my father, but my quest to learn more about him, led to my now 23+ year journey as a genealogist. So, on this day, I choose to remember my father, not with tears, but with a smile. Thank you, Daddy, for inspiring me to do this work. I only wish you were here so I could CELEBRATE all of your magnificent achievements with you, and so that I could ask you the questions I didn't know to ask, and hear some of the stories you probably didn't want to tell when you were here.
This is the house my dad where my dad grew up, in Louisburg, NC, known (affectionately) to me as "Grandma's House." The house, which is still in the family, was built by my grandfather, Calvin Yarborough, Jr. and his brother, Samuel Yarborough, in 1911

These are the only pictures I've ever seen of my father as a boy. To the left, you can partially see one of his first cousins, George R. Greene, whose family my dad lived with, during his teenaged years. To the right, there he is will all three of his cousins - George, John, and Rolland Greene. Because of my father living with them, their relationship with him was like a brother, not a cousin. They are all in heaven, now.
My father absolutely loved being a "Grandpa."
Here, he's with my oldest daughter, Natasha, who was born on his 58th birthday!
He had at total of 8 grandchildren, and he loved them all; and he now has 5 great-grandchildren, and one on the way!

My dad LOVED family (just as I do). Though he never returned to Louisburg to live, he (we) always went back to visit his beloved family. Sadly, I don't seem to have any photos of my dad with his mother, but here is a photo of him with his siblings on one of his (many) visits home.

The Yarborough siblings - they were so close. 
Arthur, Susie, and Calvin III

This photo shows my dad on a visit to Louisburg, with some of his favorite family members. In front are my two daughters. L-R, his sister, Susie, my dad, me, his cousin, John Greene, John's wife, Nellie, my dad's first cousin, Geral Yarboro Sargent, and his brother, Calvin III.

My dad with his cousin Geral and an
unknown relative
Dad with my Aunt Ruby,
my Uncle George's wife
At the first of only two (ever) Yarborough Family Reunions 1993 in Baltimore.
Seated: Cousin Geral and Cousin Madie
Standing: My dad (Arthur), Cousin Ralph, and Uncle Calvin (my dad's brother)

I gave this shirt to my dad for Father's Day, one year, and he LOVED it. The pictures are of my two daughters. I think it said, "We love you, Grandpa!"

I love and miss you, Daddy!

Thanks for reading!

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  1. I enjoyed reading about your family and your Father.
    I really need to get on the ball-follow your footsteps..It is funny because I just reviewed my Father side of the family. Doing more research in Louisiana. I did his side but now I am focus for more intense research. I lost my Father in 2011. Keep up the good work/I know your Father would be /and still proud of you.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your kind words!


    2. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your kind words!


  2. What a beautiful tribute to your father and your family. I loved reading about him and his life. Every life has its ups and downs, and your father overcame his problems and succeeded in life. Arthur P. is a winner in my book. I am glad that you have found out so much about him and his family and his career. There are parts of every life that we never know, but you've done a superb job in honoring your father's life story and family legacy.

    1. Randy, thank you for your words. I'm honored that you took the time to comment! :)
      My father was definitely an "overcomer," in more ways than I even alluded to in this post. Thanks for noticing. :)


  3. Your father's accomplishments are significant and I really enjoyed reading about how your research brought you greater knowing. Many WW II vets did not talk about their experiences, good or bad. I also lost my dad in 1997 and only through going through his military documents in the past few years was I able to understand how those years shaped what was to come. Your dad was a hero.

    1. Deborah, I'm sending you a hug. Now that I know we have that year in common for losing our fathers, that gives us yet another connection and reason to support one another.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me when people do. :)


  4. Renate, I stopped what I was doing to read about your dad, and just as I thought it was going to be, it was interesting! I enjoyed reading and learning all about Mr. Arthur Yarborough!

    1. Thank you, Cynthia! Your comment means a lot to me! Hope you're doing well!


    2. I enjoyed reading about your father's journey very much. He had such an interesting life. It was fun to read because I've met everyone in your immediate family, being almost neighbors. I did not realize how much your brother Arthur looked like his dad. Thanks for sharing your dad's story. I've actually traveled to Louisburg once.

  5. Renate, these are beautiful stories about your dad. I'm wondering if you had your dad's service record, you might be able to put some 'stories' behind the pictures such as when Army Major Yarborough has everybody's attention. Many military units are on Facebook. I'm sure you already know of the veteran service organizations such as The American Legion. Great work!

    1. Thank you. I do need to revisit his service record to see if there are any hints.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!