Gordon “Yogi” Yarborough was born December 27th, 1940, the tenth of eleven children, to Walter and Hattie Carver Yarborough in Lexington, North Carolina. He was raised in very humble surroundings and from a very early age worked to support himself and his family. He was blessed with great athletic ability and in his childhood was given the name “Yogi” because of his love for baseball and his likeness to the legend, Yogi Berra. In 1958, he graduated from West Davidson High School where he was a standout athlete in both football and baseball. He later attended Wingate College and East Carolina on athletic scholarships until a severe back injury prematurely ended his promising athletic career. He then attended High Point College, graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.
He began a career in the furniture business working for Ragan-Carmichael, one of the foremost furniture hardware dealers in the country, quickly rising through the ranks to become the company’s top salesman. He then courted and became engaged to Miss Martha Huggin, daughter of Reverend Huggin of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. Before they married in 1967 he was diagnosed with a very serious cancer and was given very little chance for recovery. After undergoing extensive and extremely grueling cobalt treatments he was completely cured. Told by his doctors that the extensive cobalt treatments would preclude his dream of having children, he again defied the odds when God blessed Yogi and Martha with two miracles – sons, Preston and Scott.
Ultimately, Mr. Yarborough decided to start his own furniture hardware business, Yarborough and Company, which flourished after several years of hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance. By the age of 32 Yogi has made his first million and eventually grew the company into an industry leader with revenues of over $30,000,000.00 a year. At the age of 42, he experienced a nervous breakdown and thereafter reevaluated his life deciding that God had many more important things than just business. He reestablished his priorities of faith, family, friends, and public service. He poured his life into his family, dedicated himself to helping those who struggled, and he became a champion for the homeless, the unwanted, and the castaway.
For five consecutive years he served as the president of the American Cancer Society and personally visited and encouraged those struggling with the disease. He served as chairman of the United Way of Greater High Point, and, along with his wife Martha, was a long-term member of the Alexis De Tocqueville Society of the United Way. He served in leadership roles with Open Door Ministry, the Hospice of High Point board of trustees, the Duke Divinity School board of trustees, the High Point YMCA, Rabbit Quarter Ministries and many others. He and Martha were also very committed to funding scholarships at Wingate College, High Point University, Bennett College, and a $1,000,000.00 scholarship program at Greensboro College.
Over the years, he was awarded a multitude of honors for his service and leadership in both business and his community, however, ultimately he found his greatest fulfillment and satisfaction in the love and commitment of his friends and family. He would want to be remembered for his love and commitment to the homeless, his compassion for those who were poor in spirit and forgotten, and his dedication to his employees whom he always considered family.
He was a man of prayer and faith who learned the power and peace of God’s love through the spiritual strength of his dear friend Mrs. Powers who overcame blindness, poverty, and cancer and loved Yogi like a son. He was a loving and caring husband to his beautiful wife, Martha, with whom he shared all of life’s challenges and blessings. He was a devoted father and grandfather to his sons, Preston and Scott, and his daughter-in-law, Mendy, and his beloved grandchildren Nathan and Maggie. He always believed that God was first and family was everything. He was so proud of his sons in whom he always believed, cared for, and took great joy in the knowledge that their “souls touched.” He was a believer in the risen Christ and he professed his trust in the power of the Cross in which he took great strength and solace in the last year of his life during his courageous fight against ALS.
He and Martha were great friends, advocates, and supporters of the High Point Community Foundation. He served on the Board of Trustees and was a highly valued and appreciated member of the Grants Committee. His commitment and passion for the Foundation’s mission of serving the unmet needs of the community will forever be remembered and appreciated by future generations to come.