February 20, 1927 - December 28, 2020
Edmund Richardson Yates was born in Denton, TX, on February 20, 1927, to Edmund C. and Eugenia Yates. As promised in one of his favorite hymns, he flew away to his heavenly home in the “twinkling of an eye” on December 28, 2020.
Those who remain include his beloved wife of 66 years, Gloria Goodman Yates; their 3 children and spouses: David and Melinda Yates, Robert and Delisa Yates, and Rebecca and Mike Jones; his sister, Miriam Gustafson, who resides in Minnesota; 11 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter, all of whom he absolutely adored and prayed for every day; as well as numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and friends located all over the country. Ed was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Jack Yates.
Not long after his birth, Ed’s parents moved the family to Roby and then to Abilene, Texas, where they settled. Even so, he often spent summers at the family homestead in Denton and told many stories of his times there with his grandmother and of hearing about his ancestors from the 1800’s. Ed joined the army reserves as soon as he graduated from Abilene High School in 1944. Once he turned 18, he was approved for military duty and began training to be part of the initial wave of GI’s to invade Japan. The Army’s plans for Ed changed when the war suddenly ended, and he was transferred from California to the Philippines, where he was eventually promoted to T-Sergeant. A.W. Martin, who served with Ed in the Philippines and now lives in Iowa, said of Ed, “We’ve had a 75-year friendship, he was a good man and friend; we always agreed that our perspective of the world changed while serving our country, it made us better people.”
Upon Ed’s discharge from the military, he earned a B.A. degree from North Texas State College (now known as University of North Texas). In 1951, he earned a law degree from the University of Texas Law School and relocated to Dallas to practice law. In 1953, he joined Jack Brady and Ed Drake to form Brady, Drake and Yates Law Firm.
In the Spring of 1953, Drake invited Ed to attend a pre-Easter service led by a young pastor named W.A. Criswell at the Palace Theater in downtown Dallas. Ed’s trajectory changed when he placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He joined the First Baptist Church of Dallas and was soon asked by Mrs. Jessie Jeffers, the singles director, to teach a brand-new Sunday School class for high school seniors. His fellow teacher was a young woman named Gloria June Goodman. After a whirlwind courtship, Ed and Gloria married April 3, 1954.
Ed practiced law until 1962, when he made the decision to join his in-law’s family restaurant, Highland Park Cafeteria. He and Gloria eventually became part owners and then full owners of the Cafeteria. Ed worked diligently to organize HPC’s management and personnel and to produce consistency in old family recipes. This Dallas institution served everyday customers and celebrities from all over the world. Ed was quoted in a July 22, 1981, New York Times article titled “At a Dallas Cafeteria, its Millionaire Pie,” saying, “The little lady down the street on Social Security ought to get the same treatment Van Cliburn does…You can see almost anybody in here at one time or another and if they want to stand in that long line, we’re glad to have them.”
Ed often participated in the HPC tradition of daily devotionals for employees and customers. One of the employees and weekly devotional leaders was Mr. Ernest Bowens, a cafeteria employee for over six decades. Mr. Bowens was featured in a Dallas Morning News article on January 18, 2019, and said, “That devotional is what keeps us going – If it wasn’t for the Lord on our side, we couldn’t make it.”
When business took a downturn and the Cafeterias were sold in 1995, Ed became a court-ordered mediator and served as a member of arbitration panels through the National Association of Security Dealers.
The Lord had long led Ed to encourage and disciple others in their walk with the Lord. A large part of this ministry was conducted over many, many meals with others. During these meals, he listened, asked questions, and provided tools to help others lead a life of Christ-like service. His 1995 career change served only to crystallize this mission. It also ushered in a deeper passion for prayer and a desire to encourage the same in others.
For 66 years, Ed served faithfully in many capacities at First Baptist Dallas. He served on the Board of Deacons and various other church committees. Upon becoming pastor of FBD, Dr. Robert Jeffress asked Ed to organize and facilitate Pastor Prayer Partners, a ministry that was near and dear to Ed’s heart until his last day. Ed and Gloria supported missionaries through the church and through other mission organizations. Over the years, he also served as a valuable member of the Board of Directors for many for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex.
Ed’s loves for both food and faith were described in a January 6, 2021, article in the Abilene Reporter News, “Ed Yates, 93, Role Model for Many, Even if He Enjoyed Chicken Livers,” by his nephew, Greg Jaklewicz. Greg said of Ed, “His ability to see the big picture aided him, both professionally and in his church work. I believe he saw most folks as somewhere between temptation and triumph, and his talent – his calling, I believe – was to move people toward their better side.”
Ed had an adventurous spirit. He enjoyed running the trails around White Rock Lake, bird hunting, snow skiing, and fishing the many streams and rivers near the towns of Buena Vista & Salida, Colorado, where the family vacationed many times and had a cabin for a few years. Ed spent time teaching each of his children how to tie lures and where to cast them, ensuring his love for trout fishing was inherited by all three.
Ed’s family will always fondly remember his assortment of home-made fudge, divinity and pralines. He made and delivered varieties of this candy every Christmas for many years, and all were enjoyed and anticipated by family and friends. All the children recall great memories of church events, vacations, “prohibited” crossings of Knox Street to visit Weir’s Country store, and working at the Cafeteria during summers and holidays. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ed also provided jobs for their friends packaging and carrying out turkey dinners to customers’ cars.
David recalls, “Dad and I were on a lifelong search for a long-lost sugar cookie recipe that his mom made when he was growing up. To Dad’s amazement, we discovered it on the back of a can of Crisco about a year ago – it was there the whole time!” David adds, “Dad took his calling seriously and had a tremendous work ethic, yet always treasured the joy of spontaneous humor.”
Robert remembers, “Dad always encouraged taking the long-term view. When I was debating quitting in the middle of law school, he pointedly and correctly said I would always regret not finishing. After I began practicing law and began to compare myself to other attorneys who seemed to have more dynamic personalities, Dad typed me a letter extolling the virtues of what he called the ‘non ball of fire’ attorney. I’ve never forgotten it and have been encouraged by this over the years.”
Becky says, “Dad’s questions were always the best. He rarely told me what to do when I would go to him. Instead, he would ask me a question or two to guide my thoughts. Multiple times, I went to him wondering why something was happening and he always asked me, ‘Do you think God is surprised at what is happening? Do you think the timing of this event caught God off-guard?’ With just these few words, he helped me shift my focus back to where it belonged and reminded me of God’s faithfulness.”
Ed’s span of nearly 94 years on this earth seemed too short. His final days were spent reaching out to his family and vast network of friends. He pursued his passion of spiritual mentoring and scriptural encouragement until the day God called him home. One of Ed’s favorite verses was Isaiah 66:2b: “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” By God’s grace, this was Ed/Dad/PawPaw. Until we meet again.
A private family interment will be held at DFW Veterans Cemetery on January 18, 2021, to be officiated by Dr. Hal Habecker. Gifts in lieu of flowers may be made in Ed’s memory to: First Baptist Dallas, 1707 San Jacinto St, Dallas, TX 75201, or charity of choice. Personal tributes may be emailed to the family at: [email protected]