Cover photo for James Paul Yarbrough's Obituary
James Paul Yarbrough Profile Photo
1937 James 2016

James Paul Yarbrough

August 24, 1937 — October 1, 2016

Dr. James Paul Yarbrough, 79, of Ithaca, NY, passed away Saturday, October 1, 2016, at his home after an extended illness. Paul was born August 24, 1937, in Waycross, GA, to the late Rev. Ralph Bird and LaVerte Tanner Yarbrough.   Paul’s education and career took him from Georgia to Iowa to New York. Ever the researcher and reflective intellectual, he recently described his life as encompassing four major stages: his childhood moving around South Georgia as an itinerant preacher’s child; his teenaged years spent helping establish a family farm and newspaper business and meeting his future wife; his college and graduate school years in Ames, Iowa, where he began his family and started his academic career; and his eventual establishment at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, when his family grew even larger with the addition of grandchildren.   As the child of a Methodist minister in the South Georgia Conference, Paul lived in the cities of Waycross, St. Marys, Eastman, Macon, and Kingsland, all before the age of 13. In the spring of 1951, the Yarbrough family moved to their farm in the Stokesville Community near Axson, GA, where Paul spent his teenaged years and started a farming venture with his mother and brother Keith. In 1954, Paul’s father established the Atkinson County Citizen, and Paul quickly took to the duties associated with publishing a weekly newspaper. In addition to helping sustain the family in its farming and newspaper operations, Paul was a dedicated student, both in academics and extra-curricular activities. Under the tutelage of W.E. Thombs, his beloved agricultural teacher and the Future Farmers of America (FFA) sponsor at Atkinson County High School, Paul ran for and won the office of Georgia FFA state president, and thus began his life-long interest in the study of agricultural journalism and communications. While still in high school, he met his future wife and great love, the late Eddie Francenia Morris.   Paul graduated from Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton, GA, and the University of Georgia in Athens, GA, obtaining honors at both institutions. In 1960, as a newly married couple in pursuit of their careers, Paul and Eddie moved to Ames, Iowa. In Iowa, he received his Masters and Doctor of Philosophy of Sociology from Iowa State University, and the couple’s two sons were born. In the summer of 1962, Paul joined the US Army National Guard and served in the elite Army Reserve Intelligence Unit for six years. Upon completion of his PhD in 1968, Paul remained on staff at Iowa State until 1982 when he was recruited by Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, as a researcher and full professor of communication science. During his academic research career, his most devoted and able assistant was his wife, Eddie, who was his partner in life and professional endeavors. After his retirement from Cornell in 1999, Paul lovingly cared for Eddie until her death in 2005. Until his passing, Paul also was able to enjoy the company of his grandchildren and great grandchildren, who lived close to him.   Survivors include two sons, James Yarbrough (Lori) and Thomas Yarbrough; three grandchildren, Logan Yarbrough, Shelby Yarbrough (Justin Mott), Drusilla Phelps (Michael); five great grandchildren, Nolan Yarbrough, Landon Yarbrough, Tanner Yarbrough, Abigail Williams, and Lillian Phelps, all of Ithaca, NY. Also surviving are brother, Keith Yarbrough (Kathy) of Waycross, GA; sister, Margaret McCranie (Slade) of Morven, GA; sisters-in-law, Sue Yarbrough of Chapin, SC, and Pearl Tanner (Jack) of Douglas, GA; brother-in-law Jesse Morris (Mary) of Pearson, GA, along with numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. In addition to his parents and wife, Paul was preceded in death by his older brother, Bradley Yarbrough of Chapin, SC. Funeral services for Dr. James Paul Yarbrough will be held at Stokesville Baptist Church near Axson, Ga. on Sunday, October 9, 2016, at 3:00 PM with the Rev. Bob Pierce and Matthew Yarbrough officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery with fellowship afterwards in the church social hall. Bangs Funeral Home of Ithaca, NY, and Relihan Funeral Home of Pearson, GA, are assisting the family with arrangements.  

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

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