Interview by Abernathy Cochran Realtor Ricky Lewallen
Meet the Rev. Darryl Womack! Darryl is the pastor at Montgomery Memorial Baptist Church in Gainesville. He is married to Beverly and the couple has three daughters: Sabrina, Samantha and Sylvia. Womack also is a chaplain with the Hall County Fire Department.
“I thoroughly love Hall County, and I think I love the size of the community that we have. We’re large enough that we have the conveniences that aren’t found in smaller towns, but we’re not so large that we lose that feel of community, that you know people. I love walking into businesses, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and I see people I know and I can talk to them. To me that’s just great,” he said.
We want to thank Darryl for sitting down with us recently to tell us more about his life and love of Hall County.
Question: What inspired, or led, you to your current career?
Answer: “I was inspired by my relationship with Jesus Christ to be obedient to Him, and in that I was called to be a pastor. I have been doing that for nearly 35 years now.”
Q: How many countries have you been to, doing your missionary work?
A: “I have been to four separate continents, and I have been in probably a couple of dozen different countries on those trips. I’ve been to Brazil in South America. I’ve been to mostly Moldova in Europe, but also Greece, where we’re going to be doing some work this year. I think at this point I’ve made 17 trips to Europe, three trips to Africa, and one trip to South America. Those are the international trips, I’ve been all over the United States, from Alaska to California and all points east doing mission work.”
Q: You are also affiliated with the Hall County Fire Department, as chaplin, tell us a little about that (what do you do there)?
A: “I serve as Deputy Chief of Chaplains for Hall County Fire. We have a staff of six chaplains that work for Hall County Fire Department, and mainly what we do is minister to the men and women of the fire department. It’s really not our position to minister to the people who are cared for by the fire department, but our main job is to take care of the men and women that serve our communities. We have 16 separate fire houses in Hall County, and then Hall County Fire has two mid units in the city fire department. It’s hundreds of men and women that we minister to, and it’s an enjoyable thing.”
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Hall County?
A: “It has to be a tie, because I really love to eat at the Collegiate Grill. I love Jeff Worley, and love eating there. In Lula though, we have a great restaurant called At the Tracks, and it’s just an amazing place to eat. I would encourage everybody to come up and eat there.”
Q: How long have you lived and worked in Hall County?
A: “We moved here in 1994, so this spring will make 25 years that we’ve lived in Hall County, specifically East Hall.”
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Hall County?
A: “There are so many people that have meant so much to me, that that’s really a hard question. There are people that have impacted my life, and that I love dearly. One person I probably miss the most, and was really there for me, was Howard Collins. Howard has been dead for a few years now, but I still miss him a lot. He was an older minister that spoke to my heart. He encouraged me, and it was just really good to have him in my life. I would be remiss without saying the person doing this interview was one of my favorite people too, Ricky Lewallen. Because Ricky has also been big in my life, and very important to me.”
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why?
A: “If it’s somewhere I haven’t gone, then I would guess at some point I would really like to visit the Holy Land. It hasn’t been at the top of my priority list, because my priorities should be in spreading the gospel. So that would be a dream trip. I’ll be in Greece in two months. I’ve seen a lot of the world, a lot of beauty, and a lot of things I never thought I would see. I’ve been to Istanbul, Turkey, and stood on one continent and looked over at another continent, we did that last year. I’ve seen Big Ben in England. I’ve seen the castles of Austria. But the thing I really enjoy is seeing little children, boys and girls, in these poor countries. Taking them toys and sharing Jesus with them. That to me is very powerful, so that might be it.”
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “I get in trouble when I talk about my favorite movie. My favorite movie is ‘The Godfather.’ It’s not a very good movie for a pastor to say that he likes, but I’ve watched it since I was a lot younger and I like it because of the storytelling that’s in it. It tells the story, it’s a bad story, of people who were very ruthless, but it’s the storytelling . Movies that tell stories are really the ones that pull me in, and let me see the life of the character, and whether the character is good or bad. I like movies that do that. For me, The Godfather has always done that. I guess I’ve watched ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather II dozens and dozens of times. My wife doesn’t like it.” But that movie ranks high with a lot of people because the storytelling. I mean, it’s not that you’re supporting the fact that they’re ruthless killers, but it’s the fact that they weave the story so well, that you sort of feel like you’re experiencing it. And the characters stand out, you don’t forget these people. You never forget Brando, and Michael his son.”
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “That’s pretty simple. God is real, that Jesus is his son, and that salvation is needed for eternal life with Jesus Christ. I mean that sort of what I do on a weekly basis.”
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: “I have what I call a ‘Glory to God List,’ and I’ve got several things on there. One of the things that I have marked of a good amount of is that I want to preach on every continent. I’ve got Africa, North America, and South America, that I’ve actually preached on. I’ve been over to Asia, but I haven’t brought a message there. Except witnessing to a Muslim man while he was giving me a tour, but I would really like to preach there. So that’s probably one of the top things on my glory to God list, my bucket list, that I would like to do.”
Q: What is your favorite music? Your three favorite bands?
A: “I am a child of the 70’s, so let me throw out a few. This going to be really weird, because in high school music was my thing. I sang in several musical groups while I was still in high school. I’ve sung for years, and love to sing, but I like different varieties of music. So the first thing I would say is a music I like, would be from my childhood, Boston. The group Boston was one of my favorites, and I still love listening to them. Then, on another end of it, I love bluegrass. I like Alison Krauss has the most beautiful voice of any woman that is singing today. I call it haunting, it’s just hangs with you. Over and over again, it just stays with you. Then there’s Christian music, which I listen to more than anything else. I know I’m crazy, but I love listening to opera. I love listening to orchestras. But as far as Christian music goes, I guess the group I listen to the most right now is Mercy Me. They seem to come at it with a great heart. I grew up with Southern gospel all my life, with groups like The Inspirations and Kingsmen, so I can flip on just about anything and get something out of it.
I do like a variety of music. The Eagles and Boston , or Kansas. Of course my biggest group, I should have said this at the beginning, I listened to Kiss all the time when I was growing up.”
Q: What business in Hall County makes you the most nostalgic?
A: “When I go into Longstreet I feel a sense of community. I like the fact that when I go into a place like Longstreet, it reminds me of cafeterias that we all eat in at our hometowns. You see people from all walks of life in there. You see people that have great wealth, and you see people that are poor. We may even see the governor of our state on there, who knows? It’s a place that just sort of shouts out, as far as what our community is about. But if you’re not from Gainesville, Longstreet doesn’t mean anything, but if you’re from Gainesville you know what it is.”
Q: Choosing anyone alive,with whom would you like to have lunch with? And why? And where would you take them to?
A: “I don’t want to sound sappy, but I’m going to. I would just as soon have lunch with my wife, anytime I have a chance. This February, will be 40 years we’ve been dating, and we celebrate that as much as our wedding anniversary. Then in 2021 will be our 40th wedding anniversary. We work together in the children’s home, and, Beverly will tell you the same thing, it never bothered us to be together 24/7. I think if I had to choose somebody today that I would want to have lunch with I think it would be her.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hall County?
A: “I thoroughly love Hall County, and I think I love the size of the community that we have. We’re large enough that we have the conveniences that aren’t found in smaller towns, but we’re not so large that we lose that feel of community, that you know people. I love walking into businesses, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and I see people I know and I can talk to them. To me that’s just great.
“We’ve worked at the children’s home for four years, and there was never a time in those four years that I went anywhere that I felt that sense of community. I mean four years is a long time. I lived in South Carolina, and even going back to my hometown, since I’ve been gone so long, I just don’t see people that I know. Here, that’s just so fun. To me that’s Hall County.
“One of the neatest things about being here for 25 years now is that when we first got here, people would ask if we knew so and so, and their mom and dad that live over in such and such place. Well when we got here, of course we didn’t, but after 25 years, when somebody calls something out, I figure out a lot of it, what people are talking about. So we feel like we’ve been adopted by Hall County, and we are graciously thankful.”
Q: Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years?
A: “In five to ten years I hope to still be pastoring Montgomery Memorial Baptist Church. I hope to still be serving as a chaplain with Hall County fire. I hope to be watching my children, and grandchildren, growing up. We have six of those now. I hope I’m spending a lot more time with them in my backyard, on the zipline or in the play castle. In tens years I still hope I’m a resident here of the Hall County area.”
Q: What is something about you that most people don’t know?
A: “I’m pretty much an open book. I always joke about how I can’t keep a secret. Even bad things that have happened to my, I usually use as illustrations in the pulpit, so people know those things about me. I guess if I had to say one thing that people don’t know about me. Since Beverly and I got married, this is the ninth place we have lived. We lived in Franklin, a couple different places in South Carolina, and we lived at the Georgia Baptist Children Home. This is the third location we have lived in here in Hall County. All together it adds up to nine. If you add up all the different places I’ve lived in my whole life, all the different homes, I would say it would be close to 16 or 17. When I was growing up, my father would work away, and we go with him. But mom would always get homesick, so we stay with him maybe nine months. You know, for school. We lived in two different places in Ohio, Canton and Middle Port, we lived in New York City, we lived in Pennsylvania twice. I was nearly born in Idaho, my mother was out there with my dad at the time. We lived in Florida. So there’s quite a few places I lived when I was growing up. We always had home, but when we weren’t living at home, we were living in one of those places with dad. That would something people don’t know about me.
“That’s one of the reasons it feels so good to be in the house we have now. We’ve done a lot to our house, we’ve fixed it up, added a greater value, and people will ask if we like where we live. I say of course, I love where I live. They’ll say we could change and get more acreage, and I say no. I want to be here. I don’t want to have all that upheaval, moving again. I never want to see another moving box. They can do what they wish with what I have when I’m gone, but no more moving boxes.
“Hall County is grand. I never thought, as a child, I would ever leave when I grew up. Because we moved around so much, and I always had a heart to get back to Franklin, North Carolina, I never thought in million years that I would be the one to leave. I always thought as people talked about leaving that I was going to be right there forever. The circumstances that led to us leaving, we never thought about it. We just said okay, that’s where I need to go. But now that I’m on this side of it I could never think about living anywhere but Hall County. This is a grand place.”
Q: What three words mean “Home” to you?
A: “When I think of home, I think of happiness, I think of warmth, and I think of a future. We travelled quite a bit when I was a kid, but we always had home in North Carolina. It really feels good to be in the same house for a really long time. It’s like the house grows on you, and my home now had grown on us and I sometimes I see myself walking around the house as an older man. I see myself growing into that house and that situation.”
The Faces of Hall County is a project to showcase the amazing people that live or work in our community. If you would like to nominate an interesting person to be featured please email firstname.lastname@example.org.