Central Monument Works
Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX


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4/8/2003 80 and Going: Central Monument Works celebrates a milestone


Central Monument Works is a labor of love that has been in the Yarber family for 80 years.

The business began in 1923 with John F. and Beaulah Yarber. John had been selling peach trees, life insurance, enlargement photos and monuments. The Yarbers owned some land that they leased to an oil company, and it was their income from this venture which enabled them to get started in the monument business. They later built a retail shop where customers could select their monuments from a display of marble and granite.

In the early days, the stones were hauled in on large wagons pulled by several teams of horses. Granite is now delivered straight from the quarries by trucks.

John and Beaulah handed the business down to their son, Jimmy Yarber, who in turn, taught his son James the trade. Jimmy continued on in the business until recently, when he suffered a stroke. Though he is now in a nursing home, his son is carrying on the tradition of excellence.

The torch of apprenticeship has now been passed to Cass Yarber, 16, who is now manufacturing monuments in much the same way his father learned. However, one main difference is the use of computers in designing the monument.

When a customer enters Central Monument Works, they are greeted by Dee Yarber, wife of James. She helps to guide the customer in making selections that reflect the character and personality of the deceased.

"Each piece of granite is a blank canvas," Dee Yarber said. "We use design, color, photos, poems, scripture -- whatever we can to convey the personality of the loved one."

The process begins with the personalization, and the lay-out is all done on the computer. They then produce a printout for the customer to approve -- before any granite is cut. The granite is shaped the old-fashioned way -- with hammer and chisel -- into a heart shape, or the popular hump top, which was an original design created by Jimmy Yarber.

The computer will then produce a template of sorts on rubber, which is glued on the piece of granite. The design is sandblasted onto the granite. Once the monument is painted, it is then set at the cemetery.

"We can't just hire anyone who walks in off the street to do this work," Yarber said. "It is a craft that must be learned and developed over time, and it involves a bit of personal strength, as well."

Central Monument Works is also able to create granite markers for cremations and mausoleums.

"We've done pet markers, markers for the pocket park downtown, the Lefty Frizzell marker at Jester Park, and done some plaques or markers for old buildings being renovated," Yarber said.

The business is not limited just to Corsicana, or even Navarro County.

"I've talked to people from Boston to California, who have relatives buried here, and we've done their markers. They want to have a marker made just like Uncle So-and-So," Yarber said.

Cass has been learning the trade since he was old enough to walk and follow his dad around.

This is his first year to work full time in the family business, and he has traded public school for home-schooling in order to devote more time to his craft. Sister Ariel, 12 years old, will also have the opportunity to learn the trade when she is older.

Located at 2320 West Second Avenue, the Yarbers have had five generations of family involved in operating Central Monument Works. They look forward to continuing to serve the community, and appreciate support from the community over the years.

Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]


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