Mark Whatley Yates – Great Friend

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We remember and celebrate the birthday of a beloved friend, Mark Whatley Yates.

Ellie and I  crossed paths with Mark and his wife Sherry during daily walks at Greatest Generation Park after we relocated to my hometown three years ago. In the early morning light, we would connect, sharing stories and updates as we strolled through the park. Despite his illness, Mark’s positive outlook on life and his deep love for  Sherry were truly inspiring, giving us hope that he would be with us for many more years.

 

Almost a year has passed since Mark left us on August 12, 2023. The geese that stop to rest in the lake and eagerly snatch up your generous bread chunks miss you. So do our mutual GGP friends, and many of the pets you lovingly stopped to share your love with.  They look around when they see us, as if to ask, “Where’s our friend, Mark?”

 

We know where you are—resting in a beautiful place, in the vast spiritual universe, waiting for the day when Sherry, Ellie, and I will join you. Though our time together was short, you became a dear friend. We miss you deeply and want to honor you on your birthday.

 

Happy birthday, Mark. Your memory lives on in our hearts, and you are forever missed.

We asked Sherry to share some insights that we might not have learned about you during our brief time together (a way-too-brief time).

Mark Whatley Yates July 9,1953 – August 12, 2023

Mark was born in Atlanta, Georgia to George S. Yates and Martha Whatley Yates and grew up in Sandy Springs.  He had two brothers and one sister.  His family lived in the middle of 20 acres of woods on Powers Ferry Road. 

He loved Georgia, he loved the woods and mountains.  He was an “Off the Trail” instructor, rock climbing in north Georgia mountains.  He rarely used ropes and harnesses but taught many people the safest way to climb rock-faces to reach the final goal.   This is where Mark and I met and became friends.  We were married two years later in 1976.  Our son, Matthew was born in 1983 completing our little family.

Mark was a wonderful father and husband.  He always had time to play with Matt, spending countless hours helping him build things with his Legos, playing catch in the backyard every evening, attended every ballgame and helped coach his son’s teams.  As a family we camped at Lake Lanier during the summer, hiked trails, rode bicycles together.  When Matt was 3 years old, Mark built him a little workbench right next to his in the garage.  As Mark would work on projects, Matt would stand alongside his daddy with his Little Tykes tools and toolbelt and work on his little bench.  They were inseparable!  As Matt grew up, he loved going to military bases to learn the history of our great country and learned so much with his dad about military aircraft.  It became a contest between them as to how many aircraft they could touch and see with their own eyes.  It was great fun to watch them both almost run from exhibit to exhibit and talk together about which aircraft they enjoyed the most.  I know that this is why our son served in the Navy on an aircraft carrier.

As a husband, Mark was gentle, kind, loving and my champion.  He loved me as Christ loved His Church with unending love and dedication.  He was always there to lift me up when I needed it, to encourage me in anything I wanted to do, and was ALWAYS my soft spot to land.  From the foundation of time, God placed Mark Yates in my life and blessed me forever.

Mark was a faithful believer in Jesus leading his family by example.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and kept the family always laughing.

His hobbies were wildflower identification, photography and fishing. We spent many weekends walking through the woods finding beautiful wildflowers, wading through streams and observing wildlife all around us.

Mark was a Deacon at Norcross Presbyterian Church. Taught 5/6 grade Sunday School and was a Youth Group Leader.

He was a Stephens Minister at First United Methodist Church in Norcross.  Helped with the Food Pantry/Clothing Closet.

When we moved back to Georgia from Ohio, we became members of NorthRidge Church in Meansville, GA.

It is impossible to accurately describe the man I was married to for 47 years… The wedding vows we took said ‘till death do us part’ but Mark will always be the love of my life now and forever.  As a Christian, I know I will be with him again standing in the presence of Jesus for eternity!  Oh what a glorious day that will be!

Sherry

 

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