Philadelphia-Neshoba County’s 2019 Citizen of the Year Nancy Yates, left, with her grandsons Jack, Gully and Charlie, along with her husband Bill, after the awards dinner Monday night. A life dedicated to family and service to her community, church and alma mater best describes Nancy Yates. She called her children William and Carolyn her greatest accomplishment.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County’s 2019 Citizen of the Year Nancy Yates, left, with her grandsons Jack, Gully and Charlie, along with her husband Bill, after the awards dinner Monday night. A life dedicated to family and service to her community, church and alma mater best describes Nancy Yates. She called her children William and Carolyn her greatest accomplishment.

A life dedicated to family and service to her community, church and alma mater best describes Nancy Yates.

Yates was named Citizen of the Year Monday night during the 66th annual Community Development Partnership banquet which was held at the Neshoba County Coliseum.

“I am excited to be chosen with some many people in Neshoba County eligible for the award,” Yates said after she was introduced by her husband, Bill Yates. “I want to thank my family for supporting me. I don’t know how lucky I have been in my life ending up in Neshoba County. I thank you all for being my friends.”




Nancy has been a part of many community Improvement projects over the years. But when asked which she was most proud, two came to mind. The first and most recent was the renovation of the Diamond Dreams Field which is designed to meet the needs of young baseball players with disabilities. It is scheduled to officially open Tuesday night. The other was being part of the committee that launched the pre-school kindergarten program at First United Methodist Church.

“I heard at Rotary a presentation about the Diamond Dreams field, and I was really moved,” Yates said. “I went back home and said, “Bill, this is something you need to make happen.’

“It is a special field. It has special products in it for people with wheelchairs and crutches. It is beautiful, and we are excited.”

Yates was born in Memphis and grew up in Senatobia. After high school, see attended Northwest Community College  before transferring to what is now Mississippi University For Women.

Yates became a teacher after graduating from the Mississippi University For Women. She met her future husband while she was in college. He was attending Ole Miss. They married and lived in Germany while he was in the military service, When his military commitment was completed, they moved to Bill’s hometown of Philadelphia.

She taught for several years at Neshoba Central and Bogue Chitto  before resigning to become a full-time mother of their two children William and Carolyn.

Still, education is very important to her, especially when it comes to helping children learn to read. Most recently, she served as a volunteer reader for the Head Start preschool children and the Pre-K at Philadelphia Elementary School.  For that dedicated work, she was named ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for the Neshoba County Literacy Council.

“If you can read, you can do almost anything,” Yates said. “That’s very important. The arts are very important because it makes you think.”

She is the past president of the Philadelphia Public School District’ Board of Trustees. She most recently attended the Word Retirement Party during the 2018-2019 school year at Philadelphia Elementary School in support of the Whole Schools Arts initiative recognition the school received from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

And all of that is part of her busy resume’ of volunteer work and accomplishments. She has been a Cub Scout Den mother and a Girl Scouts/Brownies leader. She has served in leadership roles with Philadelphia/Neshoba County Arts Council, the Home Arts Club, co-chairperson for the Neshoba County American Cancer Association, the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce and the tourism committee. She has served in many leadership roles in her church.

Outside of Neshoba County,  Yates as served as a board member for the Mississippi International Ballet Competition the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art, the Governor’s Mansion Foundation, and is a past trustee of the Mississippi School Boards Association Workers Comp Trust. She has been on the board of National Museum of Women in the Arts. She is a member of the Jackson Symphony League, the Seventy Five Club and the Meridale Girl Scouts Council.

In 2008, Gov. Haley Barbour appointed her to serve on the Mississippi Arts Council. She was reappointed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

She was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Mississippi University For Women in 2005.

She is an owner of Yates Construction Co.

She proudly calls William Yates III and Carolyn Voyles her greatest accomplishment. They have four grandchildren, Abby, Gully, Jackie and Charlie. 

While introducing his wife as Citizen of the Year, Bill Yates told a story he feels describes her love for Philadelphia and Neshoba County.

“Several years ago, I talked to Nancy about where we should spend our golden years,” Yates said. “I asked her to think about if I wasn’t around, where she would want to be. I suggested she take a few days to think about it and pray about it

“She came back in a few days and said ‘I know where I want to be. I want to be here. I want to be on this corner where we have been since 1972. I want to walk around this block every day and I want to              go to church at First United Methodist Church in Philadelphia.’”