Joy W. Yates
Mrs. Joy Yates, of Yazoo City, age 83, passed away Sunday, April 27, 2014 at University Medical Center in Jackson under Gentiva Hospice Care.
Her death came as a result of strokes following surgery on April 11. She was the widow of the late Rev. James F. (Jim) Yates, Sr., Pastor Emeritus of Yazoo City's First Baptist Church.
She was born Lillian Joy Wirotzious on November 14,1930 in Louisville, Kentucky, and was the only child of Edward C. and Lillian Wirotzious. Her name "Joy" fitted her outgoing personality and sweet bubbly spirit that lasted throughout her lifetime.
Joy grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where she graduated from the Lausanne School, a private school for girls in Memphis. She later enrolled at the University of Texas. After returning to Memphis, she taught kindergarten and developed children's ministries at Cherokee Baptist Church.
On September 23, 1955 she married Rev. Jim Yates and became his partner in ministry until his death in March of 2012. Together they served churches in Brownsville, Tenn.; Paragould, Ark.; and from 1961 until 1991 at First Baptist Church, Yazoo City. In years following his "retirement" they continued serving interim and full-time pastorates across the state.
Joy was an accomplished musician with training in piano and vocal performance. She taught music at St. Clara Academy and Covenant Christian School in Yazoo City and was teaching private piano lessons in her home up until the time of her surgery and death. She was a member of the Mozart Music Club during its existence and held membership in the Mississippi and National Federation of Music clubs.
A natural and gifted speaker and teacher, she enjoyed teaching Sunday School classes. She led prayer retreats, spoke at family workshops, deacons and wives retreats, and enjoyed leading conferences for young ministers' wives retreat. She actively worked with mission groups, particularly with young girls and enjoyed her missionary roundtable group and Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) involvement. She served as an officer in WMU on the local, state and national levels. She was also privileged to travel with mission teams on several occasions to teach and lead conferences in other countries. She also served as President of the Ministers' Wives Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Joy was a gifted artist and illustrator and found joy in doing art projects for her pupils, schools, community groups, and civic organizations.
Joy was preceded in death by her parents and her husband of 56 years. She is survived by one daughter, Carol Joy (Tommy) Sparkman of Clinton, Ms.; three sons, John (Patty) Yates of Enterprise, Ala., James Foster (Jim) Yates, Jr. and wife Paula of Starkville, Ms., and Jeff (Suzy) Yates of University City, Texas. She is also survived by four grandsons, Hunter Sparkman of Nashville, Tenn., Cody Sparkman of Clinton, Foster and Jon Paul Yates of Starkville. She also leaves behind extended family and a host of friends in her church, community, and across the state and nation.
Visitation for Mrs. Yates will be held Thursday, May 1, 9:30 a.m. until funeral services time at 11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church, Yazoo City. Burial will follow in Glenwood Cemetery under the direction of Stricklin-King Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 780, Yazoo City, Ms. 39194.
Stricklin-King Funeral Home
718 Calhoun Avenue Yazoo City, MS 39194-3226
Published in Clarion Ledger on Apr. 30, 2014