By Jo Ann Porter
Special To Ropers Sports News
Berl L. Yarbrough, Oklahoma born May 12, 1923; called to Highest Team Call from Clovis, Calif., Dec 28, 2017.
A true cowboy and horseman – colorful, inventive, resourceful, competitive, humorous, ornery, and sometimes long-winded, helpful, loving, hard-working and so much more – a man worthy of fond remembrance from all who knew him from any arena or area of his life.
Berl made an impact on so many lives, but I’m going to focus mainly on his roping family.
For me it started at the Atkins Arena at the corner of Shaw and Willow nearly 50 years ago, when he was riding two of the nicest grey horses in the state (but he always rode nice horses for all the time I’ve known him). He was no stranger to the pay window or awards presentations and almost always accompanied by his wife and family as either roping partners or sideline support.
There is no telling how many rigs and trailers he fixed and tweaked to keep ropers on the road over the years. He was a wizard welder and ace mechanic with a knack for figuring out exactly how to fix or improve on things. Also no telling how many ropers he helped with his knowledge and wisdom often shared or world famous hugs he’s given.
He was no stranger to doctors and surgeons that he kept busy so he could stay in the saddle and keep swinging his rope and hugging the ladies. It was a while after the loss of his thumb that he devised and patented in 2004 the Quick Release stainless steel tie on for heelers and it’s known as the safest in the market and has likely saved many a thumb, fingers and hands.
At his services held Jan 9, 2018, I learned a great deal about his life from birth on and the take-away was he was always a fierce family man, and took care of his family from the time he was very young, devoted and strong willed he traded his traditional schooling education for the life experiences and hard work university. It was shared he would keep his own family and grandkids on their toes when playing cards or games, as he would set things to his advantage if you weren’t sharp enough to catch him.
He joins his wife Lee and daughter and son-in-law Dorothy and Darryl Atkins at Heaven’s Arena and leaves his children Calvin, Jimmy and Jane to manage and love and keep in line all his other relations here on earth.
Tip of the hat and a final big hug to you Berl, you will indeed be remembered and missed.