Cherry Yar­bor­ough, de­voted daugh­ter

Baltimore Sun - - DEADLY BUS CRASH - By Tim Pru­dente Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter Ian Dun­can con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. tpru­dente@balt­sun.com

Cherry Yar­bor­ough called her 70-yearold wid­owed mother in North Bal­ti­more ev­ery day.

In the morn­ing: “Hi, Mom. I’m at work.” In the evening: “Mom, re­mem­ber your medicine.”

When the phone didn’t ring Tues­day in Min­nie Yarbough’s home, she knew some­thing was wrong.

Yarbough would learn that her de­voted daugh­ter, the one who took her gro­cery shop­ping and bought her blouses and cho­co­lates, was killed in the bus crash in South­west Bal­ti­more. The 51-year-old sec­re­tary was near the end of her com­mute to work.

Min­nie Yarbough called and called her daugh­ter’s desk at the state Depart­ment of Health and Men­tal Hy­giene of­fice — no an­swer. She wor­ried more and more.

Her daugh­ter’s su­per­vi­sor called back: There was a bus crash. There were peo­ple hurt.

“I said, ‘Mrs. Yarbough, I’m com­ing to get you,’” said Cyn­thia Pe­tion, the su­per­vi­sor. “Cherry is never late.”

Cherry Yar­bor­ough cel­e­brated her 29th an­niver­sary in the of­fice two months ago with a catered lunch of Peru­vian chicken — she paid for it all.

She would bring in home­made sweet potato pies and Ca­jun shrimp gumbo. At the Bal­ti­more Book Fes­ti­val each year, she would buy cook­books and share recipes with her co-work­ers.

On Wed­nes­day after­noon, Min­nie Yarbough sat in the quiet, dim liv­ing room of her Park­lane house just a mile from where her daugh­ter also lived alone. Mother and daugh­ter spelled their last names dif­fer­ently.

“I wish the Lord had taken me in­stead of her,” she said. “Who wants to lose a child? Whowants to lose a child? Tell me. Tell me.”

Cherry Yar­bor­ough was seven years older than her sis­ter Tif­fany Lewis, who lives in Florida. In child­hood, she would baby-sit her younger sis­ter. She was obe­di­ent, ex­cept that time she took all her fa­ther’s cold cut meats and made sand­wiches for neigh­bor­hood chil­dren.

In adult­hood, with­out a hus­band or chil­dren, she doted on her mother. She vol­un­teered to work the regis­tra­tion ta­ble at Live Bal­ti­more home-buy­ing events. She and the other vol­un­teers would swap their “tran­sit sto­ries.”

“She loved Bal­ti­more City and she wanted to pro­mote this as a place for more peo­ple to come and make their home,” Live Bal­ti­more spokes­woman An­nie Milli said.

Neigh­bor Ro­maine Peter­son vis­ited Min­nie Yarbough’s house Wed­nes­day to of­fer con­do­lences.

“They were good ba­bies,” Peter­son said. “They didn’t run up and down the block.” Min­nie Yarbough nod­ded. “When the street lights came on —” she be­gan. “They came right in,” Peter­son fin­ished. The women have been neigh­bors more than 30 years. They raised their chil­dren to­gether.

“God will bring you through this,” Peter­son said. “You let me know. What­ever you need, you let me know.”

Min­nie Yarbough nod­ded. The last time she spoke with her daugh­ter was Mon­day evening. Cherry had called again to re­mind her mother of the medicine.

“She knew I was old and for­get­ful,” Min­nie Yarbough said. They chat­ted on the phone as usual. “Bye, Mom,” Cherry Yar­bor­ough said, at the end. “Talk to you to­mor­row.”

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