Co-workers recall the Berry librarian’s compassion, wit, dedication to students
Sarah Carroll, Viking Fusion
For many at Berry College’s Memorial Library, Jessica Yates was much more than a kind co-worker with a strong work ethic; she was a loyal and determined friend.
Yates, an acquisitions coordinator at the library and a Berry alum, died as a result of a car crash in Chattooga County in November.
Cetoria Tomberlin, who works in the library’s Collection Services, said she remembers Yates’s powder dry sense of humor and ready supply of good advice.
“She had a really good way of not having biased opinions about things,” Tomberlin said. “She was a really good person to go to when you wanted to talk about something or weigh your options.”
Jessica Hornbuckle, who also worked with Yates in the library’s Collection Services, said, “If I was having some difficulties and trying to figure something out, we’d just talk things through. She was always funny, but she didn’t always show it. She’d just sit there and take everything in, but you could tell [by] the gleam in her eye [that] she was always thinking.”
Hornbuckle said Yates was dependable and committed both to her job and to those around her.
“Not all jobs are glamorous; they’re not always shiny and exciting, but they’re all important,” she said. “She was definitely willing to do her job, to be really good at her job, and didn’t always expect people to pat her on the back. She did what was necessary to get things done.”
Head, heart and hands
Tomberlin said Yates had a go-getter personality and demonstrated servant-leadership.
“I think Jessica was really a representation of Berry and its desire to help people,” she said, saying that Yates embodied Martha Berry’s phrase, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
Jessica Yates, 29, was killed on U.S. 27 when a Honda Pilot, driven by Hannah Millican of Summerville, hit Yates’s Kia causing her to crash into the Ford in front of her, according to the Georgia State Patrol. She had worked at Berry’s Memorial Library since 2009.