Videographer shares memories of fallen colleague

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Ira Yarbrough, a graphic designer in the Center for Academic Technology Support, died Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at the Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

Yarbrough retired from Eastern in 2014.

Born in St. Louis, Mo., Yarbrough grew up in Chicago. He went to school at Eastern, receiving an undergraduate degree in art. He later received a master’s of fine arts degree in drawing and painting from Northern Illinois University.

Michael Babcock, a videographer in the web office at Eastern, said he shared an office with Yarbrough for eight years.

“We shared a lot. We shared stories, thoughts and feelings about everything from the disheveled squirrel outside our office window to confidences I have only shared with a handful of good friends in my life,” Babcock said.

He remembers Yarbrough as having the respect and admiration of the entire office.

“He was the foundation of CATS and the glue that held it together,” Babcock said. “He was a mentor, a friend and a refuge on stressful days. He always gave an honest opinion and presented it with tact and respect.”

Because he was so honest, everyone in the office wanted to hear his perspective no matter what the circumstance was.

“He understood and valued the thoughts and perspectives of everyone around him, whether he agreed with them or not,” Babcock said. “With every individual CATS hired, Ira was looking ahead. He had a real gift for understanding the dynamics of an office.”

Yarbrough was even the creator of a newsletter for CATS.

Babcock said it was an example of his desire for CATS to succeed in serving the Eastern community.

“I would guess Yarbrough’s advice was sought after by everyone in CATS at one point or another,” Babcock said. “Yarbrough was a hard worker who always had the best interests and future of CATS in mind.”

Babcock and Yarbrough would often bond over coffee and share stories about life, art, love, children, parents and even work once in a while.

“Ira had a pleasant calm about him, a warmth and ease. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh,” Babcock said. “If I were to do the math, I probably spent close to 20,000 hours with Ira. I would guess we spent about 10,000 of those laughing, hard. It’s how we started most of our days. We laughed about all of it.”

Babcock credits Yarbrough with bringing people to work in the CATS office.

“Several of us are here right now because Ira saw something in us. I am absolutely certain I wouldn’t have the good fortune of working here if it weren’t for him,” Babcock said.

Although many in the workplace revered him, Yarbrough had some hidden talents.

“I’m not sure everyone knew how talented of an artist he was. He had been, and continued to be, a successful and prolific painter,” Babcock said. “His portfolio speaks volumes of his work ethic and his view of the world.”

A lot of Yarbrough’s paintings were landscapes.

Babcock said his landscapes tended to focus on the warmth and beauty that surround us.

“Through color and light, he brought out all that was good.” Babcock said. “ I think he was able to see that sort of potential with all those around him.”

Still living are his wife, daughters, son, sister and six grandchildren.

“Ira was truly an asset to EIU, and I feel blessed to have had him as a colleague, a mentor — and most of all, a great friend,” Babcock said.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].