Beloved Coast journalist and ‘recipe junkie’ Andrea Yeager lived with a ‘joyful heart’

·4 min read

Anyone who knew Andrea Yeager of Gulfport probably didn’t know all the facets of her life, but they knew her “joyful heart.”

Yeager, once a journalist at the Houston Chronicle, was the managing editor of the Sun Herald for five years and a food columnist for many more years. She died Monday, Jan. 17. Yeager was 70 years old.

A visitation will be held from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at Bridge Community Church, 16121 Lorraine Road, Biloxi, and a memorial service will follow. Memorial contributions can be made to the Bridge Community Church, for Bethesda Home for Boys in Balfate, Honduras.

She put a lot of herself in the columns she wrote, sharing with her readers the ingredients of her life in addition to what went into the recipes that came from a local restaurant or were favorites of her family.

She called her family “recipe junkies,” and reminded readers, “Grandma’s kitchen stirs memories and the senses. Remember her kitchen smelling of fresh-baked berry pies or berry jams simmering on the stove?”

She wanted people to be comfortable trying these new recipes. “Cooking is not brain surgery, so let’s not stress,” she wrote.

Mentor and friend

She was a mentor to chefs, writers and women across South Mississippi as a small business owner, a community relations manager at Barnes and Noble books and a Mary Kay beauty consultant.

“I remember calling her before arriving at the Sun Herald as managing editor,” said Dorothy Patrick Wilson, now publisher at Gulf Coast Woman Magazine. “She was so very helpful and I knew right then that she would be someone I’d spend time getting to know. She had a joyful heart and a love of people and her big smile showed that. With her passing, a light has been dimmed in the lives of the many who knew and loved her.”

Chef Calvin Coleman said Yeager was a “very dear friend” who was responsible for his success in the early years when he took over Naomi’s Catering from his mother.

“She was very supportive of people like me that came onto the scene,” he said. She didn’t just recommended his business, he said, but told people they just had to hire his company.

“She was the epitome of a true Christian through generosity,” he said.

One of their first projects together was creating Markets at Markham when he was a chef at Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport. Coleman said they had room for 25 booths, but she had about 40 artists, crafters and cooks she wanted to support. The concept took off and lasted until Hurricane Katrina destroyed the hotel, he said.

He recalls the small kitchen gadget store she operated in Gulfport, and later in Long Beach, where she taught kids’ cooking classes and gave cooking demos. She had type 1 diabetes, he said, and wanted to teach people how to cook and eat healthy.

“Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not simply rules and regulations. It is all about choices, not omission,” Yeager wrote.

Childhood sweethearts

She and her late husband Allen Yeager met in third grade and were high school sweethearts, yet didn’t marry until 17 years after high school graduation.

“No matter what trials they went through, they worked it out,” said their daughter, Elyssa Yeager.

She will most remember her mother’s reaction when she told her she was going to be a grandmother. “Her eyes overwhelmed me,” Elyssa said, and granddaughter Lillian Grace Yeager became her pride and joy. They recently took a trip to Disney World and a cruise to the Caribbean, and Alyssa said watching her mom and daughter on the dance floor is a memory she will cherish.

Elyssa said what she will miss the most is “definitely the concoctions we made with food,” and the marathon game nights with her mom.

“Bible Trivia was one of her favorites,” Elyssa said.

Women of Wisdom

Robin Killeen calls Yeager a warrior.

“She heard God’s voice clearly, precisely,” Killeen, who leads the Women of Wisdom organization, said. She met Yeager more than 25 years ago when she came to a meeting.

“This unbelievable red headed woman was so charismatic even before she spoke,” Killeen said.

Yeager became a member of the leadership team and was caterer for the organization.

After the group’s meeting on Dec. 8, Yeager and Lilly stayed behind and built a gingerbread house for a local contest. It took fourth place.

“That was the last thing we did together,” she said, and she hasn’t been able to toss it away.

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