Larkin Johnson (L.J. or Jay) Yeager, a retired Southern Baptist preacher, World War II veteran and former cotton farmer, died Wednesday at the age of 91.
A visitation will be held from 6:00 - 8:00 pm on Friday, February 7, at Beaty Funeral Home in Winnsboro, Texas. The funeral will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 8, at Pine Street Baptist Church in Winnsboro.
Reverend Yeager was born June 8, 1922, in Lawrence County, Tennessee to Reverend Harvey Lee Yeager and Myrtie Ada Burch Yeager. During the Great Depression, the Yeager family moved from Tennessee to East Texas by train where they lived near Sulphur Springs for 7 years. Reverend Yeager’s father served as pastor of several area churches on a part-time basis in Paint Rock, Union, and Coke. When his father passed away, the family moved to Athens, Alabama and later Cullman, Alabama.
In Cullman, the Yeager family moved in next door to the Thomas family, where Reverend Yeager met Vicie Ophelia Thomas. They were later married on October 4, 1941, and their first son, Stanley C. Yeager, was born in 1943. Eighteen months later, Reverend Yeager joined the Navy during World War II and served on the USS Trenton, a light cruiser, off Alaska and the Aleutian Islands as part of a fleet commanded by Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Upon returning home, he farmed cotton and raised chickens in Alabama. He also drove a street car and city bus in Birmingham. Reverend Yeager’s second son, Timothy Lee Yeager, was born in 1954.
In the early 1960’s, Yeager, an ordained deacon, was called to the ministry and moved his family from Alabama to Fort Worth, where he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and served as a building superintendent for College Avenue Baptist Church.
Upon graduating in 1963, Reverend Yeager was the pastor of several churches, including First Baptist Church in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas; Mount Hope Baptist Church in Crane Hill, Alabama; First Baptist Church in Anderson, Alabama; Antioch Baptist in Cooper, Texas; Pine Street Baptist Church in Winnsboro, Texas; First Baptist Church in Edgewood, Texas; and Rock Hill Baptist Church in Quitman, Texas. After his retirement, he served as an interim pastor at Oakland Baptist Church in Canton, Texas and Prewitt Baptist Church in Van, Texas.
He is survived by his wife of over 72 years, Vicie Ophelia Thomas; two sons (Stanley C. Yeager and Timothy Lee Yeager); 4 grandsons (Stephen Brian Yeager, Douglas Alan Yeager, Landon Keith Yeager, Christopher Jarrod Yeager); and 6 great-grandchildren (Carson Banks Yeager (16), Alexandra Hyde Yeager (13), Melanie Kate Yeager (14), Holly Stevens Yeager (12), Evelyn Leona Yeager (2), Luke McCrae Yeager (7 mos.)).
Reverend Yeager was preceded in death by his four brothers (Winham Elisha "Pete" Yeager, Charles Richard (“Chunk”) Yeager, Wilford Quentin (“Bill”) Yeager, and Harvey Leo (“Pat”) Yeager) and two sisters (Vileta Anise (“Bug”) Yeager and Agnes Louise (“Lits”) Yeager).
We will all miss Reverend Yeager’s smile, sense of humor, love of sweets and willingness to take on any project that needed to be done with the drive and determination of a true Yeager.