Cousin Robert Yates (1946-2015)

Robert Yates became very active in coaching youth athletics.

Donald Yates
That quiz that I do at the end of the year asks if I had any significant deaths in the past 12 months. I’ve dealt with three in the first frickin’ five weeks of 2015.

Robert Yates was my late mother’s first cousin. Mom’s mother was Gert; Gert’s brother was Ernie Yates, who married Charlotte Berman. They had four children: Raymond, born November 17, 1937, which I only know because it’s 10 years to the day after my mom; Frances, who was born January 1940; Donald, who was born in 1943; and Robert, the baby of the family, born in 1946.

They lived in Binghamton, with Ernie working as a truck driver, even though he was a college-educated man because that was what was available to him. But when Ernie died suddenly in 1954, the family moved to St. Albans, an enclave in Queens, New York City, in this house that looked like a mansion to me, it was so big compared with our modest dwelling.

Our family went down to NYC at least twice a year, and Charlotte and her brood came up to Binghamton. Since Robert was only seven years older than I, I felt more a natural kinship with him than his older siblings.

My father arranged the flowers for Robert’s wedding to a woman named Audrey, and possibly other Yates weddings. Robert and Audrey had a son, Aaron, who you can see below on my sister Leslie’s lap, as Robert looks on. Unfortunately, Aaron was murdered on the streets of New York City when he was 18, the details of which I’ve never been privy to.

I do know that Robert became very active in coaching youth athletics and generally being involved in the community. His nephews and nieces in particular really looked up to him. As one niece said, “He was a second, or even only, father to a lot of kids who are now better men because of his influence.”

After I moved to Albany, I’d only get a chance to visit them on special occasions, such as Aunt Charlotte’s 80th and 88th birthday parties. I last saw Robert, and his brother Donald, at Thanksgiving 2013, swapping memories.

Robert had been on dialysis for several weeks, so his passing on February 5 was not unexpected. And “he is now free from the pain and suffering that he had been living with for some time.” Still…

Robert.Aaron Yates.Leslie Green


That “once removed” stuff involves people of different generation. Donald and Robert, my mother’s cousins, are my first cousins once removed, for instance.

As I have noted, my parents were both only children, so my sisters and I had no direct aunts or uncles, and no first cousins. But we do have cousins. And a whole lot of them were under one roof on Thanksgiving night.

When people try to describe cousins, they tend to talk about the siblings, but I find it easier to understand a generation earlier.

Edward Yates and Lillian Archer, married in the 1880s

They had five children, one of whom did in infancy. For this purpose, I’ll mention only two:
Gertrude Yates married Clarence Williams.
Ernie Yates married Charlotte Berman

Gertrude had one daughter, Trudy Williams
Ernie had four children, Raymond, Frances, Donald, and Robert
As Edward and Lillian’s grandchildren, Trudy is first cousins with Ernie’s four. She’s a decade to the day older than Raymond, but they are the closest thing to siblings she had.

Trudy married Les Green and had three children, Roger, Leslie, and Marcia.
Frances married Jimmy Beal and had two daughters, Anne and Lisa. (Donald and Robert also had kids.)
As Edward and Lillian’s great-grandchildren, the Green kids are second cousins to the Beal girls. The Greens are also about ten years older than the Beals but considered them their closest relatives outside their nuclear family.

Roger married Carol and had one daughter, Lydia.
Leslie married Eric and had one daughter, Rebecca, who married Rico.
(Marcia also has a daughter, Alexandria.)
Anne married Brahm and had three daughters.
As Les and Trudy’s grandchildren, Lydia and Rebecca are first cousins, though 25 years apart.
As Edward and Lillian’s great-great-grandchildren, Anne’s daughters are third cousins with both Rebecca and Lydia.

That “once removed” stuff involves people of different generations. Donald and Robert, my mother’s first cousins, are my first cousins once removed, for instance.

And all of the people noted in italics were at Anne’s house outside New York City for Thanksgiving dinner last month, three generations of descendants of Lillian and Edward, along with a couple of spouses, not to mention some friends as well. Someone at the table, just before the meal, said that we individually may think of our immediate families as small – I know I do – but we really have a large family when we look at things differently.

The Lydster, Part 84: Cousins

It’s Lydia’s 7th birthday today.

On her mother’s side, Lydia has three first cousins, 10-year-old twin girls, and a nine-and-half-year-old girl. But on my side, we gave my parents three granddaughters about a dozen years apart.

Rebecca, Leslie’s daughter, is 32 and lives in southern California with her husband Rico; she’s the one wearing the coat in the two pictures below. I can tell you that she has been a great, supportive cousin to Alexandria, Marcia’s daughter, who is 20 and lives with Marcia (and lived with my mother) in southern North Carolina. Likewise, Alex has been a wonderful cousin to Lydia.

But until recently, Rebecca and Lydia had never met, though Lydia had seen Rebecca and Rico on the TV show Wipeout back in September. So when Rebecca arrived in NC for my mother’s funeral, we made sure that the two of them had some quality time together.

Unsurprisingly, Rebecca was also a terrific cousin to Lydia, who was a bit in awe of her big cousin after her impressive, albeit second-place finish, on a very rigorous game show.

In fact, when we drove, in two cars, to Salisbury National Cemetery, some 40 miles each way to bury my mother, Rebecca rode with Carol and me, in the back seat with Lydia; they seemed to be entertaining each other thoroughly. I’m glad they got a chance to meet. I’m only sorry that it took so long, and the circumstances which finally brought them together.
Oh, yeah, it’s Lydia’s 7th birthday today. I had a meeting with her teacher earlier this month, and she said that Lydia is a bit of an old soul. The teacher might make what she called an ironic aside, and Lydia, as often as not, would “get” it and laugh when no one in the class did. She’s still rather shy around adults, but she does pay attention to what they say and do.

Lydia is also getting more clever. A couple of days before my birthday, my wife arranged for my OLD friend Uthaclena, his wife and his 16-year-old daughter to come up from the Mid-Hudson Valley as a surprise. Lydia knew about it and was very good about keeping it a secret. On that day, she also assisted me in moving furniture and got me a tweezer and a flashlight so I could remove a couple of slivers from my finger. So she’s also become quite helpful.

I love you, daughter o’ mine.

(First picture C 2011 Uthaclena; other pictures C 2011 Leslie Ellen Green – taken with her cellphone!)

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial