William Morris (Bill) Yeager, 90, passed away peacefully at his home on August 13, 2019 in Jackson, MS. He was born on February 8, 1929 in Paris, TN, the son of James Paul Yeager and Thelma Woody Yeager. Bill grew up in Corinth, Mississippi and never imagined all the accomplishments he would achieve during his life. He possessed a strong devotion to faith in Jesus Christ, a patriotic service to his country, and a deep love for his family.
Bill was a gifted athlete in high school and received a scholarship to play football at Southeastern Louisiana College in Hammond, LA where he played halfback. He enjoyed following his alma mater throughout his life.
Following graduation from college, Bill was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps as an officer where he served a distinguished 26-year career rising to the rank of Colonel and retiring in 1977. During his period of service Bill was deployed overseas to Okinawa and on three occasions to Vietnam in addition to stateside assignments to Richmond, VA; Winston Salem, NC; Atlanta, GA; Quantico, VA; Camp Lejeune, NC; Aiea, Hawaii; Parris Island, SC; Virginia Beach, VA; and Kansas City, MO.
Colonel Yeager’s military career spanned several notable crises in American history, including the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War. While serving in Vietnam, Bill was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, a foreign decoration awarded by the Vietnamese government, and the Bronze Star with Palm when he commanded a battalion of Marines in Vietnam. Highlights of Bill’s military career included the opportunity to conduct joint military exercises with President Chiang Kai-shek’s forces of the Republic of China, and later when he met with President Nixon at his home in San Clemente, California.
Forty years after his retirement, Colonel Yeager was presented with a United States flag that was flown over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery one week before Memorial Day in 2017.
Bill retired from the Marine Corps in 1977 to accept a position as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Mississippi Savings & Loan Association in Corinth, MS. He was later appointed by Governor Ray Mabus to serve as Commissioner of the Mississippi Savings and Loan Association. During that time, Bill had the honor to serve as the Chairman of the National Association of Savings and Loan Supervisors, where he brought national attention to our State.
Bill enjoyed an active lifestyle in his retirement, but particularly a special love for the game of golf. He never threw a club in anger and somehow made eight holes in one at the Country Club of Jackson. An active member of the Mississippi Seniors Golf Association, Bill enjoyed traveling to numerous golfing events. He was fortunate to play the Augusta National Golf Club course on two occasions and the St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland. Bill kept an extensive journal of his golfing adventures that documented his play, whether good or bad, on over 140 courses around the world.
Bill’s life was inspired by a deep sense of faith in Jesus Christ and the work of the church. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Corinth, MS and later Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson, MS, where he was an active member of York Craig’s Sunday School Class and several men’s bible study groups that brought him great joy. When Bill became physically unable to attend church, he regularly watched the Christ United live stream services, listened to gospel music and read Jesus Calling.
Bill was blessed with a forty-year marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Janeene Potts Yeager, who supported him throughout his Marine Corps career. Their union was blessed by two daughters, Sue Allen Yeager Tate (Granville), and Amelia Meadows Yeager Smith (Roy), all of Jackson. When Janeene was diagnosed with cancer at an early age, Bill pursued an aggressive treatment protocol for her that helped to prolong her life for over ten years. Following her death, Bill was introduced to Mary Margaret Stewart McKell by their mutual friends, Willard and Lottie Boggan, at a golfing trip in Steamboat, CO. They enjoyed a wonderful twenty-year marriage where they were each welcomed into each other’s families. Unfortunately, Bill lost Mary Margaret to an unexpected illness.
Bill’s life in his final years was especially blessed by the unwavering love and support of his dear friend, Edrie Royals. Their relationship brought Bill and his family much happiness and joy. Together, they enjoyed fine food, good times with family and friends, and special time together.
Bill was predeceased by his parents and his brother, James Paul Yeager, Jr. He is survived by his sister, Peggy Yeager Whitehurst (Billy), his two daughters, six grandchildren, Granville Tate, III, Allen Simpson Tate (Molly), Laura Elizabeth Tate, Lindsey Smith Wiseman (Parker), William Graham Smith (Laura), and Matthew Yeager Smith (Lauren). He is also survived by great grandchildren Amelia Nell Wiseman, Graham Parker Wiseman, Logan Yeager Wiseman, William Graham Smith Jr., and Lainey Meadows Smith who affectionately referred to him as “Colonel Bill.”
Visitation will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Friday August 16, 2019 at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson followed by a funeral service at 2:00 p.m. at the Church. Private interment with full military honors will be held at Henry Cemetery in Corinth, MS.
The family would like to express its deep appreciation to Bill’s physicians and his long-term caregivers, LaTaunia Catchings, Bunny Merritt, Vera Simon, Christian Alexander, and Eloise Lewis.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Christ United Methodist Church, Jackson, MS.
Sebrell Funeral Home