The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

In tribute: Civic leader 'never met a stranger'


April 14, 2019

CLOVIS — In a lifetime of nearly a century Louis Yarborough Jr. dedicated over half that time as a civic leader, youth coach and family man in Clovis, where he “never met a stranger.”

Yarborough passed last month in Lubbock just five days short of his 98th birthday. He had spent the past 15 years in Texas but for much of the 53 years prior lived in Clovis, where he bought a sporting good store after retiring from the oil business in Midland. Before that, he grew up in Freestone County of east Texas and was an athlete at Amarillo College and the University of Texas.

Records show Yarborough played as a relief pitcher for the minor league Amarillo Gold Sox baseball team from 1941-42, when the game was put on hold there due to World War II. Yarborough enlisted in the Navy then and served on the USS Idaho, “a battleship that saw action in almost every engagement in the Pacific,” according to his obituary.

Former Clovis High School head football coach and New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame member Eric Roanhaus said he first met Yarborough some 45 years ago. By then Yarborough was already a good friend of Roanhaus’ predecessor and former Eastern New Mexico University head football coach “Dunny” Goode.

“Dunny had grown up in, I want to say Midland, and Louis had lived in Midland, and he had kind of mentored Dunny when he was a kid,” Roanhaus told The News. “Louis was very interested in athletics and sports and coached a lot of teams.”

Yarborough was a youth baseball and boxing coach but was also an “avid golfer, enthusiastic hunter and fisherman, accomplished card-player and pool shark,” said his obituary. More than that, Roanhaus said, he was “a real family man” and a people person.

“He loved to hug, often claiming that he ‘had never shaken a woman’s hand in his life.’ He loved young people and made life-changing impacts on scores of kids that he coached or mentored,” said his obituary. “He would make new friends at the drop of a hat, and he loved to laugh, talk and tell stories.”

In the weeks since his passing, remembrances online have included posts from across the country of people recalling their happy memories of Yarborough and his family.

“He was one of the happiest and giving men I knew while I was growing up,” said a post from Dean and Colleen Miner of Ontario.

“One of my very, very favorite people,” wrote Marc Skeen in Midland. “If Louis was around you knew you were in for a good time.”

Yarborough was a member of Clovis’ 16th and Pile Church of Christ, and his funeral services were held March 23 in Celina, TX. He is preceded in death by his “beloved wife of 62 years,’ Waneta Yarborough, and survived by three children and many descendants.

“He was always ready to give you a little advice, and if you were smart you needed to take his advice because he had vast experience,” Roanhaus said. “He was always ready to help you be better at what you were doing, just like when he was coaching.”


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