DAPHNE, Ala. (WALA) - Well over 1,000 friends and family turned out Friday, January 25, to pay respects to Daphne Mayor Bailey Yelding.
Daphne Civic Center echoed with songs of faith and hope as a huge crowd filled the room to pay last respects to a great community leader.
Yelding passed away in his home Tuesday, January 22, after losing his battle with cancer. Those close to Yelding said his personality and leadership skills rubbed off on all of those around him.
"He was a complete man," said Daphne Head Football Coach Glenn Vickery. "I mean, he loved his family. He loved the community of Daphne. He was that ball coach who coached hard. I remember seeing his teams play. He was just well rounded, open minded."
Before serving on the Daphne City Council and then going on to become Daphne's first black mayor, Yelding spent decades as an assistant principal in the Baldwin County School System and as a basketball coach.
Fenton Jenkins was Yelding's fraternity brother and also played for and coached basketball with Yelding. He was with him the night before he died and recounted his last conversation with him.
"We actually, he talked about basketball," recalled Jenkins. "His son is coaching at Daphne High School, and I asked him if he had a division one player on that team. And we talked about that and talked about going home, and he just wanted to know who was around him."
Thousands turned out to pay their respects to Mayor Yelding and his family, but the service was not just about mourning his passing. It was about rejoicing over a man who lived his life to the fullest and touched the lives of so many.
"It was wonderful," Yelding's friend Charles McBride commented. "It was enjoyable, and knowing Mayor Bailey, this was something he would really appreciate."
"Oh, the service was excellent today, and it's been a blessing just to be here," added Renee Perkins.
"A celebration of life is what it really is," said County Commissioner Bob James. "It's a life that was well led, and he left a lot of good fruit behind him."
During the service, it was said that Yelding planted a lot of seeds along the pathway of his life and those seeds will surely continue to grow and bear the fruits of his legacy.
Yelding was a member of Macedonia Missionary Church and was laid to rest at Macedonia Memorial Gardens. Yelding was 72.
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