Father, son provide services to Andrews members
By Ron Bickerstaff, 316th Public Affairs Community Relations chief
/ Published August 22, 2006
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. --
Earl places a fresh batch of pastries in the display case to fill the request of Andrews Commissary patrons.
The first thing people notice about W. Earl Yarbrough, Andrews Defense Commissary Agency store administrator, is his easy smile. Whether he's walking the store aisles or chatting with the staff, his smile accompanies him like a valued customer.
Earl has been in the business for 20 years, with the last five spent at Andrews. This grocer is the number two man at the commissary and one of his many tasks is customer service. ''It's my favorite duty," said Earl. ''It gives me an opportunity to get close to our customers and solve a problem if one exists."
When Earl walks through the commissary, patrons stop him to chat or to ask about his family members.
''It's a joy to shop in this store," said Mose Chest-nut, a retired senior master sergeant. ''My wife and I shop here because the service is so good and the people are friendly."
''I have known Mr. Yarbrough for awhile now and I can say he really cares about people," said Mr. Chest-nut.
Earl passed on his warmth and appreciation for people on to his son.
When people first meet Rexford ''Rex" Yarbrough, his chosen profession might be surprising. His thick shoulders and barrel chest suggest he would be moving equipment or people. He's neither a mover or bouncer, but a barber.
When Rex and his business partner opened their local barbershop 16 months ago, his dreams had finally come true. For as long as he can remember all he wanted to do was cut hair. He was certified in electronics but turned his back on a career that could have made him lots of money.
''I like to be creative and cutting hair gives me that opportunity," said Rex.
His shop is old school with a hip-hop flavor. His barbers are young and music video's are usually on the TV screen. Rex and his boys revert to old school methods by the manner in which they cut hair. Rex is the type of barber who doesn't look at the clock or the customers waiting for a cut. Time is not an issue and every customer gets this when they sit in Rex's chair.
Even with his military clientele, this master barber takes his time to ensure no two haircuts look alike.
''I really appreciate my military clients because they represent the biggest challenge because of the regulations," he said. ''I want to give them the best haircut and keep them within (regulations.)"
''He is good at what he does, and he has worked hard to perfect his skills," said a beaming father. His son takes appointments, and even dad, who is bald, has to wait to get his beard trimmed.
''I am proud of my father because he is strong and has taught me to work hard," said Rex. ''I hope to teach my kids the same values."
On any given day, Earl can be seen in any part of the store working with the 150 plus employees who keep food on the shelves. Things can sometimes get tense in the grocery business when things break, people get sick or orders don't show up.
''He doesn't let any of that bother him," said Michelle Garrard, commissary grocery manager. ''He is always positive."
Lisa Brent, commissary secretary, has a more basic view of the administrator -- he's cool.
Earl is a community man. He lives about a mile from the front gate. He walks the distance when the weather is nice. His son and daughter live next door. He works with children in the neighborhood in his free time giving back to those who need it the most.
''It's my faith," said Earl, as the reason for his love of service. That faith was shaken recently and almost destroyed the Yarbrough's commitment to service.
A few months ago, Earl lost his wife, Rex's beloved mother. Rivers of tears flowed, but the indelible pain knotted in the hearts of these men. ''I'm a momma's boy and proud of it," said Rex.
Earl worried about his son as he tried to find a way to heal his heart at the same time. Earl kept his faith and managed to deal with a wound that will never heal. Rex, too, found his way back. Both men went back to the work they love.
Andrews Airmen are fortunate to have Rex and Earl providing services on and off base. Whether buying some groceries or getting that precise cut, the Yarbrough men are here to support.
Driving through the Main Gate in the middle of the road there's a sign that reads, ''Andrews ... Make it yours." Some people can interpret that to mean treating the people at Andrews like family. It's obvious that's what the Yarbrough men do.