By Laurie Stone: PNT Correspondent
Nina Yarbrough brought liberty to the heart of those that encountered her 5-foot-2 stature whether it was through her educational training or her virtuous example of friendship.
Nina Yarbrough died at the age of 97 on Dec. 8, 2004.
Family members described Yarbrough’s demeanor as being spunky, feisty, stubborn, persistent and protective. It was this attitude that paved the road to success for those disciplined and encouraged by Yarbrough to strive to reach their potential.
Nina Yarbrough was a child during the Depression and a product of the Land Rush in Oklahoma, according to Mardelle Manes, Yarbrough’s daughter.
“Children of that era were more tenacious and able to stick it out when things were hard,” she said. “They didn’t give up easily.”
Yarbrough graduated from high school in House in 1927 and began her teaching career one-year later with only 17 credit hours towards her bachelor’s degree. She taught in a one-room school occupied with 53 students in Solado, N.M. in Harding County.
She received her bachelor’s degree 13 years later from Montezuma College (now New Mexico Highlands University) in Las Vegas, N.M. and in 1962, she completed her master’s degree.
Manes said, in an interview to the Albuquerque Journal, “That her mother had a dogged determination to succeed because of her competitive spirit and her desire to not be left behind which was prevalent throughout her life.”
In her 49 years as a teacher, Yarbrough taught thousands of children in small communities such as Roy, Mills, Quay County, Causey, Dora, Floyd and Moriarty and retired in 1977.
Dr. Mark Yarbrough, Nina Yarbrough’s son, said his mother really loved her students and felt they were a large part of her life.
“As a teacher, my mother taught me an immeasurable amount as well,” he said. “She expected me to excel in every endeavor that I took on which game me a sense of work ethic and a sense of propriety.”
Nina Beatrice Raper Yarbrough was born 1907 in Throckmorton County, Texas to Marcus Willard and Martha Jane Jones Raper.
Soon after her birth, the family drove by mule and wagon to the New Mexico Territory to settle and work the land under the Homestead Act. She married George Samuel Yarbrough, also a teacher, on Dec. 22, 1928. They were married for 42 years.
Yarbrough volunteered for numerous organizations assisting with the senior citizens’ meal program, serving as a food delivery person and a cashier, she served on the Golden Acres Retirement Community Board of Directors, worked with the Friendship Rebekah Lodge No. 24, and Retired Teachers’ Association and she was a member of First Baptist Church.
In her late 80’s, Yarbrough was named “woman of the year” in Portales by the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority for being an angel in disguise through her volunteer work.
Manes said her mother was surprised when she was honored with the award because it was part of her nature to work hard and care for others.
“She was a very humble woman,” said Manes. “Her greatest quality was loving others.”