Pastor Lee W. Yarbrough

June 9, 1940January 6, 2019
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Celebrating the Life of Local Pastor, Lee W. Yarbrough

Lee Wayne Yarbrough was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 9th, 1940 to Wayne and Inez Yarbrough, and he passed away on January 6th, 2019 at the age of 78. He grew up in Borger, Texas and Midwest City, Oklahoma. He had fond memories of growing up with his younger siblings, Lynn and Joella as well as several cousins, aunts and uncles. His family was always involved in church. In his later years, he would often reflect on how his mother prayed for him and encouraged him. In high school, Lee played football for the Midwest City Bombers. He told many a story over the years, often including lessons learned from Coach Darnell. In 1963 he moved to California where he began working as a welder. During those first few years away from home and family, he was lonely, and decided to join a church. During this time period, God called him to the ministry. Not long after, he enrolled in California Baptist University in Riverside where he met his wife, Kathryn. The two married on August 24th, 1968 and just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

In 1970 Lee graduated from California Baptist College with a degree in history and a minor in religion. The couple also welcomed their first child, Joel. They moved to Texas during the summer of 1971. Lee continued his education earning his Master's in Divinity. In 1973, Jill was born. From 1975-1979, Lee began his first pastorate in a small logging town, McCloud, California. During that time, Jane and Joy were born, completing their family. The family left McCloud in 1979, and moved onto the following ministries: Principal and Education Director at North Hills Christian School in Vallejo, CA and Pastor of Tierra Buena Baptist Church in Yuba City, CA.

In 1983 the Yarbrough’s moved to Hanford, California where Lee served as the Pastor of First Southern Baptist Church for 26 years before retiring in 2009. Throughout his time there he blessed many lives. Some highlights include taking hundreds of kids to summer camp over the years, Vacation Bible School, and Angel Food Ministries. He also had a love and a knack for connecting with people. He visited people in their homes, in the hospital, and of course he could also be found at the donut shop or at a good high school basketball game.

During his retirement Lee and Kathryn enjoyed themselves. Taking trips near and far, watching over their grandchildren, and continuing to serve the community. Though retired, Lee continued God’s work by serving as a Chaplain at Adventist Health Hospital, serving at People’s Funeral Chapel, and teaching at Sierra Baptist Church in Visalia. During his free time, he enjoyed gardening, farming worms, and watching the San Antonio Spurs.

In 2014 Lee was diagnosed with a neurological disease, Multiple System Atrophy. Despite his disease he continued to serve where he could. When people came to visit, he often said, “You know, I’ve been praying for you!” This was such an example and inspiration for his family, because as his health was declining, he consistently prayed for others. His wife Kathryn cared for him, never leaving his side. Lee was a fighter till the end. Always wanting to walk, proud to share his daily progress with statements such as “I took 40 steps today!” Lee was always positive, always witty, and he always had faith in God.

Let us not weep for our loss but rejoice for his happiness. Let us celebrate his life knowing he is with the Lord, walking, dancing, and laughing. He is doing all that his earthly body restricted him from doing. Let us rejoice that he is at peace.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Inez and Wayne Yarbrough, and his brother, Lynn Yarbrough. He is survived by his wife Kathryn Yarbrough, his sister Joella Hannaman, his mother in-law Elda Wilson, brother and sister in-laws Keith and Cindy Wilson. His four children, Joel Yarbrough, Jill Rubalcava and husband, Jay, Jane Dirkes and husband, Andrew, and Joy Najera and husband, Mario, his 18 grandchildren, Christian Yarbrough, Erin Yarbrough, Hannah Yarbrough, Samuel Yarbrough, Joshua Yarbrough, Jordan Yarbrough, Melissa Rubalcava, Orie Rubalcava, Ryan Rubalcava, Joseph Yarbrough, Jenna Rubalcava, Kathryn Dirkes, Daniel Dirkes, Abby Najera, Hailey Najera, Brooklyn Najera, Jacob Najera, and Madelyn Najera, one great-grandchild, McKinnley Yarbrough, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Lee Yarbrough was a goofy, fun-loving, witty man who loved life. He will forever be remembered as a husband, a brother, a father, a grandfather, a friend, a pastor.

About a year ago, one of his grandkids listened in as he was giving advice to another, and she jotted down his words. “Sometimes I think back on my life, the opportunities I had, and I think I could’ve done better. But then I think about what I’ve done, and the people of the church that I’ve fallen in love with. I’m not famous, and I’m not wealthy, but I’m happy.”

Pastor Lee’s Family would like to thank People’s Funeral Chapel, First Southern Baptist Church and countless family and friends who have offered kind words, prayers and support.


  • Wayne Harold Yarbrough, Father
  • Inez Yarbrough, Mother
  • Kathryn Louise Yarbrough, Wife of 50 Years
  • Joel Yarbrough, Son
  • Jill & Jay Rubalcava, Daughter
  • Jane & Andrew Dirkes, Daughter
  • Joy & Mario Najera, Daughter
  • Lynn Yarbrough, Brother
  • Joella Hannaman, Sister
  • Elda Wilson, Mother-in-law
  • Keith & Cindy Wilson, Brother-in-law
  • He also leaves his 18 grandchildren, Christian Yarbrough, Erin Yarbrough, Hannah Yarbrough, Samuel Yarbrough, Joshua Yarbrough, Jordan Yarbrough, Melissa Rubalcava, Orie Rubalcava, Ryan Rubalcava, Joseph Yarbrough, Jenna Rubalcava, Kathryn Dirkes, Daniel Dirkes, Abby Najera, Hailey Najera, Brooklyn Najera, Jacob Najera, and Madelyn Najera, one great-grandchild, McKinnley Yarbrough, and numerous nieces and nephews.


  • Visitation Friday, January 11, 2019
  • Funeral Service Saturday, January 12, 2019

Pastor Lee W. Yarbrough

have a memory or condolence to add?

Fr. Dan Avila

January 25, 2019

During my service at Saint Brigid Catholic Church I had the pleasure of interacting with Pastor Lee at different times. He was truly a devoted man of God. May the Lord give him his just reward and pour out his comfort on you his loving family. May he rest in peace.

Deborah White

January 17, 2019

I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Uncle Lee, but one thing I remember vividly is watching Willy Wonka with him at my Grandmother's house on a visit. He said, "Here come those Umpa Loompa guys, I guess they have a lesson for you." Silly, but every time I watch the show I think of that. Perhaps I should think of it more often. Perhaps this is a good example of how Lee helped others learn with out being overbearing or didactic. I hope the family finds peace and love in this difficult time. Please know you are in my thoughts.

Cheryl Guilbeau

January 13, 2019

We met Pastor Lee (papa) in 1994. I had just moved to Hanford with my two young daughters. We did not know anyone and a colleague invited us to Wednesday pot luck at First Southern. We met Pastor Lee and his family that night and our lives were changed forever. He and his family took us in and made us their own. Over the next 25 years we spent many days at Southern Baptist. My girls attended summer camp every year. It was the highlight of their summers. Pastor Lee taught them to love Jesus and themselves and others no matter who they were. Aside from church fellowship and love, the Yarbrough family opened their lives and their homes to me and Sara and Emily. we spent Christmases and Thanksgivings, birthdays and births as part of their family. We even got the pleasure and joy of getting to know their extended family as well. Pastor Lee always encouraged me and Sara and Emily in everything we did. He never had a negative word to say no matter what happened in our lives. He made me laugh a lot which I needed on many occasions. He was a funny, fun, positive, loving man of God. Sara, Emily and I are blessed to have known him and been loved by him. Our lives are better for having been in the company of him and his family. They taught us the meaning of family and how to love unconditionally. For this I am truly grateful. Thank you Papa! I will miss you.

Orie Rubalcava

January 12, 2019

In the course of human life, we find ourselves surrounded by men of all shapes, characters, and talents that proudly self-proclaim their greatness for the admiration of others. Rarely do we find ourselves confronted by men with a firm connection to the divine and sincere selfless servitude –Lee was this rare man. For the past twelve years, I have traveled home during the summer and during each one of those summers Lee would always let me know that he was praying for me. He was many things to many people: a father, a husband, a pastor, a leader, a mentor, but foremost a man of God. I have no doubt that as he turns from time to eternity that he will be met with a resounding applause as he makes his way home to the Kingdom. Pastor Lee, you will be missed.

Henry and Christine Randolph

January 10, 2019

Pastor lee was a very kind, giving and compassionate man... he was always ready to help anyone who needed advice , support and help of any kind! He would be called out at anytime of the night or day to a hospital or home to help with anyone who was suffering Or needed support!
We were privileged and blessed 25 years ago to be married by pastor Lee. His precious presence will be missed however he is now present with the lord... may God bless and comfort your family!

Anita Roby

January 10, 2019

Bro. Lee was always so good to my Mom, Bertie Rivers and our family. I will remember him and his love of God- an everlasting memory. My prayers for the family.

Melissa Rubalcava

January 10, 2019

I met Lee when I was a teenager and I remember thinking, “who is this joyful man?” He was always in a good mood and willing to tell a funny joke. He even had funny jokes when he was blessing my vows at my own wedding. I remember Lee always asking me about my life and how I was doing. He wanted the best for people and was always willing to listen and provide solutions. He was a godly man and helped so many people in a powerful way. I will always remember his willingness to help others and quick comebacks. Rest In Peace.

Jay Rubalcava

January 10, 2019

I can’t believe this day has come. I knew it would come someday, but I didn’t think it was going to be this soon. I can’t begin to thank you for all the countless things you have done for me. The conversations about life, love, and God. I remember all the many Bible studies that we did together. I will never forget that day you dragged me out of bed early in the morning and said, “Come on bud I’m taking you to Promise Keepers.” That day changed my life forever and I have you to thank for it . I never would’ve imagined that I would accept Christ as my Lord and Savior and be married to Jill all in the same year. That in itself is a miracle. Thank you so much for accepting me for who I was and for accepting me into your wonderful family. I am truly a better man because of you. Lee, you taught me so many things. Once I asked you how do you put up with people and all their problems and you said, “ JAY, you just have to see people through the eyes of Jesus and then you will understand.” When I asked how to do that, you told me to take up my cross daily and put on the armor of God. In other words, dive into God‘s word. You also reminded me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . Thank you so much Lee for all the memories and the teachings. I will take them with me for the rest of my days. You have definitely made a difference in my life and to many others in this community. Well Lee, I Will see you later in Glory.

Your number 1 son in law, Jay.

( P.S. can you put a good word in for me with Jesus I’m still trying to ride your coattails LOL.)

Miranda Payne

January 8, 2019

Miranda Payne

January 8, 2019