Yetta G. Samford Jr., a lifetime resident of Opelika, Alabama died on the 28th day of December at age 90 at the Bethany House in Auburn, Alabama. He was born on June 8th, 1923 in Opelika, Alabama and was preceded in death by his parents Yetta G. Samford Sr. and Mary Denson Samford, his son Yetta G. Samford III as well as his sister Mary Vernon Samford Williams (Richard) of Decatur, Alabama. He is survived by his wife Mary Austill Samford who is originally from Mobile, Alabama where they were married on September 8th, 1949. They have 2 daughters, Mary Austill Samford Lott (Vic) who lives in Mobile, Alabama and Katherine Park Samford Alford (Farra) who resides in Lexington, Kentucky along with 5 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
Yetta G. Samford Jr. generously devoted his time and efforts to numerous activities locally, his state and country. He was educated in the public schools of Opelika and earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1947 from Auburn University (API). He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. The Auburn University landmark of Samford Hall is named for his great-grandfather William J. Samford who served as the Governor of Alabama.
Yetta served in World War II
in the United States Army
Air Corps and was a B-17 pilot stationed in England in 1944 and 1945.
Yetta graduated from the University of Alabama Law School with a LLB degree in 1949 and was admitted to the Alabama Bar in that year. He was President of Phi Delta Legal Fraternity and inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, as well as Quadrangle.
Upon graduation from the University of Alabama Law School and his marriage to Mary Austill, Yetta returned to Opelika, Alabama to practice law in the firm established by his grandfather N.D. Denson Sr. His first cousin John V. Denson II joined the firm in 1962 and the firm is now named Samford and Denson. Yetta served in the Alabama Senate from 1958-62, representing Lee and Russell Counties.
Yetta was elected to the University of Alabama's Board of Trustees and served for 21 years from 1972-93 after which he was awarded the honor of Trustee Emeritus. During his tenure on the board he was elected to a 3 year term as President Pro Tempe of the board beginning in 1990. He was awarded an honorary LLD Degree in 1995 and served on the President's Council of the University of Alabama until his death.
Yetta also continued his support for Higher Education in Alabama by being one of the founding Trustees of Mobile College in Mobile, Alabama. He served for over 50 years, including Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Studies on 2001.
His devotion to his hometown of Opelika included serving on the Board of Deacons of the First Baptist Church of Opelika for 60 years and teaching a Sunday school class for 30 years. He was a member of the Opelika Kiwanis Club for over 50 years. He served as a board member and President of the Opelika City Board of Education for 15 years beginning in 1962.
In addition to his support of education he has also served on numerous boards for various corporations and state institutions including the Board of Director of Liberty National Life Insurance, Torchmark Corporation, West Point-Pepperell, Inc. and as Chairman of the Board of Farmers National Bank of Opelika. He also served on the Board of Corrections for the State of Alabama from 1969-75, the advisory board for the State Docks beginning in 1987, the State Chamber of Commerce from 1963-92 and on the Business Council of Alabama from 1985-92. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Alabama Law Institute Council and was a member of the Alabama Academy of Honor.
He will always be remembered for his humanity, generosity, wit, and kindness to all.
Graveside funeral services will be held in Garden Hills Cemetery at 12:00 pm, Monday December 30, 2013. The visitation will follow in the Mary Denson Samford Parlor of First Baptist Church of Opelika, with the memorial service at 2:00 pm in the sanctuary.
The family suggests in lieu of flowers, memorials may be donated to First Baptist Church of Opelika or The University of Alabama Yetta G. Samford III Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 870382, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487.
Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home and Crematory directing.www.jeffcoattrant.com