4/8/2003 80 and Going: Central Monument Works celebrates a milestone|
By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff
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
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
"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
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