Family wants Yates' name added to memorials

Former police chief died after breaking up a fight in 1961

BY SHARRON HALEY
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 2/16/18

TURBEVILLE - It's been more than 57 years since Turbeville Police Chief Samuel Edward Yates Sr. died after breaking up a fight after a boys' basketball game between East Clarendon and a rival Columbia team.Members of his …

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Family wants Yates' name added to memorials

Former police chief died after breaking up a fight in 1961

Posted

TURBEVILLE - It's been more than 57 years since Turbeville Police Chief Samuel Edward Yates Sr. died after breaking up a fight after a boys' basketball game between East Clarendon and a rival Columbia team.

Members of his family would like to see Yates' name added to the Clarendon County Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial on the Clarendon County Courthouse square. They said they'd also like to see their loved one recognized on the state and national levels with his name added to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Since Jan. 24, 1961, when Yates died, his family thought the death of the then-58-year-old Yates resulted from a massive heart attack because he had been hospitalized before for a heart condition. It wasn't until August 2014 that the Yates' children discovered that their father had died not from a massive heart attack like they thought had happened but as the result of a stroke or cerebral vascular accident.

"I was just 16 when my daddy died," Kay Player, Yates' next-to-youngest child, said in 2014. "We all thought he had a heart attack. I don't remember ever seeing his death certificate."

At the time of his death, Yates and Bessie Joye Yates, now deceased, had eight children, including two grandchildren that the Yateses raised through a guardianship. The children were Player, Joyce Bryant, Jackie Yates, Sherian Matthews, Rosa Mae Kelly, Sandra Ann Gaskins, Sam Edward "SC" Yates Jr. and Norris Yates.

"I remember he died at a boys' basketball game," Player added. "He was talking and just dropped to the ground. He didn't die right then. People rushed him inside the school to revive him, but they couldn't."

According to folks in the Turbeville community, Yates attended the game to make sure the game ended without incident; however, that wasn't the case. As soon as the final buzzer sounded, a fight broke out between the two teams. After breaking up the fight, Yates escorted the Columbia team to their bus. As he was standing beside the bus talking with the Columbia team's coach, he collapsed. Yates was taken inside the school's teachers' lounge where he died at 10:50 p.m.

Player said her father had been Turbeville's police chief for maybe four or five years before his death.

"He served as a police officer long before becoming police chief," she added. "He didn't even have a uniform when he became the police chief."

Yates' nephew Pat Yates said he thinks it is time to have his uncle's name placed on the Officer Down Memorial Page as well as the Clarendon County Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial.

"He died working for the folks of Turbeville," his nephew added. "It's time he is recognized for his service and dedication. I know several of the officers whose names are engraved on the monument. They are all heroes in my book."