Through the Years … Stories of Love and Legacy from the Hilltop
A Ninety Year Legacy
By Richard B. Yeilding '73
For ninety years Yeilding family members have been part of the life of Birmingham Southern College. This legacy began with my father and his five brothers all being students at the college starting when the college first moved to Birmingham in the early 1920’s. One brother, Newman “Red “ Yeilding, spent his career of 45 years working in the various capacities managing the business affairs of the college serving as interim President the last year before his retirement. Subsequently, four generations and twenty family members have graduated from the Hilltop.
My affinity for the college was a product of growing up with this family heritage. In the words of my father, I remember hearing ” This is where everyone in our family goes to college.” My older brother, Tom, completed his undergraduate four years before I entered in 1969. In reality, I vicariously lived the life of BSC thru him before I became a student at the college. He had a passion for life on the Hilltop that exceeded anything that I ever observed in my fellow students!
As a freshman I was enjoying a normal college life until Tom’s tragic death in April of 1970. He was killed in a tractor accident clearing land for a baseball field on family property in anticipation of opening Yeilding’s Day Camp and Ski School that summer. It became my project to finish which was a life changing event for me as a college freshman. We enjoyed a successful run of four years until I graduated and entered the family business.
This all would have been impossible without the faculty and staff at BSC who all knew Tom quite well. They were extremely supportive during this time, giving me the extra help necessary to not fall completely behind in my class work, finish my freshman year on the baseball team, and prepare for the opening of the camp. The support and encouragement of all concerned at BSC was very important to my managing through this challenging event.
My next four years were filled with traditional college experiences: fraternity life, the baseball team, a limited amount of study time, a summer business to run, and part-time work in the family business, Yeilding’s Department Stores. This was truly a liberal arts college experience and a basis for a lifelong journey of “learning to think”. I am still learning to balance a life of spirituality, family, career, and physical well-being.
My father, brother, uncles, and cousins have all been proud of the heritage of Birmingham-Southern College. The Yeilding Chapel built on the campus in 1968 was the vision of Howard Yeilding, the oldest of my father’s brothers. His lead gift was supplemented by his 5 brothers to fund the Chapel to honor their father, FB Yeilding. The family continues to provide funds to maintain the Chapel in hopes of providing a spiritual place and worship opportunity for BSC students from all faiths.
When I reflect on my time as a BSC student there were no noteworthy academic achievements but more importantly a unique, diverse, and authentic experience that could only have happened at BSC. It is for this experience and to honor the members of our family who loved the college and valued their BSC experience that I want to continue to support the good work of the college.
Through the Years … Stories of Love and Legacy from the Hilltop is a new series of memories of times spent at Birmingham-Southern written by alumni who wish to share their unique relationship to our college. A new story of love and legacy will appear monthly.
If you would like to submit your memory of BSC to be considered for publication on this webpage, please email your story (600 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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