This month, Jimie Edward Yearwood, 84, of Crestview, Florida, was called to Heaven. When I heard the news, I immediately envisioned my dad up above greeting an old friend. A franchise founder was going to reconnect with a great franchisee. And, in doing so, dad would see up close how his mission, vision and values had journeyed forward in all the right ways in his absence.
Jim and his wife JoAnn were a part of the Dwyer Group franchising family, now known as Neighborly, where I witnessed people exemplify a career in franchising the way my father had meant it to be. The Yearwoods joined Rainbow International in the early days and, as many in the organization would point out, were among the most loyal franchisees around. I can say with certainty that they lived their lives, ran their business, and followed my father’s original Code of Values and the operational Code of Values with incredible character. In doing so, they even earned the coveted Don Dwyer Award of Excellence in their career.
Jim was so aligned with my father’s core value that “loyalty adds meaning to our lives.” He was on the front lines of incredible transformations happening within the business, and he navigated those changes with an upbeat attitude of always wanting what was best for the whole system, not just what was best for he and JoAnn. Jim embraced another incredible value from our operational code of values by always “communicating honestly and with purpose.” He was never afraid to ask questions with love and passion for the good of the whole network.
His incredible commitment to serving our great country earned him a Purple Heart and grounded him with life-lasting values that, in turn, radiated throughout his business journey, his family life, his community involvement and beyond. Jim and JoAnn fostered some 100 children in their time together. They also raised their own six children, saw the world and, most heartfelt to me, became a wonderful member of the Rainbow franchise family.
I was so touched to read Jim’s obituary that proudly shared how he became known as ‘Papa Rainbow’ during his 27-year tenure as a Rainbow franchisee. I know he is up in Heaven now sharing wonderful stories with my great papa too.
(Left to Right: JoAnn Yearwood, Dina Dwyer-Owens and Jim Yearwood)