“Did you tell him he’s not allowed to leave? We love him too much.” It is the sentiment felt across HBU as our beloved Dr. John Yarrington plans to retire. Dr. Y, as he is affectionately called, first joined the HBU faculty 18 years ago in 1999. He has served in many roles: director of the School of Music, Schola Cantorum, and University Singers; faculty athletic representative; and a kind mentor to students both in and out of music. Dr. Yarrington told The Pillars, “I love what I do, and I’m going to miss the students I’ve had over these years terrifically. Many times, I’ve come through the HBU gates and thought, ‘Thank you, Father.’” One of Dr. Y’s favorite memories of his time here “was when Schola sang in Haydn’s church in Eisenstadt, Austria, as a part of a classic music festival. It was a highlight!”
Dr. Y has written four books; published multiple compositions; directed workshops, honors choirs, and church events across the United States; and conducted major works by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn and more. For the past 16 years, Dr. Y also directed the Chancel Choir at First Presbyterian Church in Houston.
While Dr. Y’s career accomplishments could fill this magazine, his witty sense of humor and enthusiastic love for people are the marks by which he will be remembered. Alumnus Ruben Alcala ’10 said, “Dr. Y’s love of music is only overshadowed by his love of students. He has been a mentor, friend, teacher and father-figure to many students, and I would not be the person I am today without his love and guidance.”
The men’s basketball team will miss Dr. Y’s cheers during their practices and games. Coach Ron Cottrell said of the music professor, “Dr. Y has been an ever-present mentor, encourager, supporter and friend, not only to me, but to everyone associated with our basketball program. Dr. Y’s wit, candor and wisdom on a daily basis will be missed, but we congratulate him on this next phase and will continue to cherish his support and friendship in the future.”
HBU President Dr. Robert Sloan holds a high respect for John Yarrington. “John has a unique gift of drawing out special qualities in students that they didn’t know they had. He has a remarkable ability to encourage students and help them reach their full potential. Sue and I have a deep affection for John and Diane Yarrington and the work that he has done here at HBU. He is a personal friend and will be missed.”
John and his wife Diane of 50 years have six children and 10 grandchildren. In retirement Dr. Y plans to stay busy with his family, teach music and participate in mission work through his church. He jokes that Diane warned him, “I married you for better or worse, but not for all day.”
Houston Baptist University will miss Dr. Y’s love, humor and passion. We thank him for nearly two decades of teaching and shaping HBU students for the glory of God, and we wish him the best in retirement.
Come and support Dr. John Yarrington in his last HBU choir concert on Monday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Dunham Theater. Former music students of Dr. Yarrington are asked to join Schola Cantorum as they present “Choose Something Like a Star.” Contact Ruben Alcala at RubenJAlcala@KatyISD.org for more information.