Courtesy photo Opal Yell
You finish your education when you’re young, you have a family when you get older.
Opal Yell didn’t take the ordinary path. But then again, her daughters have realized she was no ordinary mother.
Yell, a mother and former business owner in Texico, died Dec. 24, 2010.
Born Oct. 27, 1935, in Sayre, Okla., Yell and her husband Buck never finished high school. She was married at 14, and had all four of her children by the time she was 19.
Early on, her daughters said, she picked the role of mother, and did it with every ounce of her being.
“She filled our lives with teaching us about how to work and logic, but she made it fun,” daughter LaWanda Meeks of Clovis said. “We had a good, wholesome upbringing, and we were fortunate to have her.”
The family moved to Farwell in 1953, three years after Buck and Opal were married, and was a stay-at-home mother until her youngest daughter went to school.
Because of the close proximity in age, she was able to play with her children,
“I can remember when we had to go home from school, we would always have games to play, like Wahoo and checkers,” Meeks said. “She would do things with us like go bowling and go skating.”
But she also taught her children a work ethic, and was always around to help people in the neighborhood.
“She could put stuff together,” daughter Judy Sandoval said. “She’d fix lawnmowers. She’d fix bikes for all of the kids in the neighborhood.”
A few years down the road, Yell took on tasks outside of the home, and in 1964 began a job at Rip’s Western Wear in Texico. She also opened a crafts store and ran it for two years.
But when the summer came, it was back to being a mother.
“I just always remember how much she gave of herself for us,” Meeks said. “She would take off in the summer so she could be with all of us. When school would be out, we would plant a garden and can everything in it.”
She worked for 17 years at White’s Auto Store in Clovis, with three different owners at the helm until it closed in 1991.
At the age of 70, Yell took another unordinary path. She wanted to finish schooling, and opted for a GED test.
“She just decided that’s what she was going to do,” Sandoval said. “She was so proud of it.”
Her daughters reflect on their mother often, and find they try to exemplify her work ethic in everything they do and her caring nature with everybody they meet.
“Probably not until I got married did I look back and realize she was pretty special,” Meeks said. “(You realize) all that she had to take care of, plus the job and raising us, and teaching us how to set goals and reach those goals. She was just our best friend, as well as our mother, and a wonderful grandmother.”