It started just prior to a pandemic, according to Pastor Freeman Pierce, and has continued throughout and by God’s grace the First Baptist Church of Danville is caught right in the middle of it.

“There has been a resurgence of growth in the Danville Community; there have been at least five new businesses in the area with more exciting things happening going on with us seemingly being the hub of operation,” Piece said. “Since it was annexed into the city, Danville has become more community-oriented. So much so, it has some of us with our heads spinning, but God is in charge.”

Needless to say, whether he would admit it or not, First Baptist Church of Danville has been a hub for the Lord ever since Pastor Freeman stepped up to the pulpit seventeen years ago. It made its debut with a prison ministry and was the first in the area to bring in a motorcycle ministry. Currently, the church supports six active ministries including Son Shine Lighthouse, a safe transitional home for women and children in New London.

Now, they are enveloped in three main phases of community (and church) development, beginning with the Danville School building that was reverted into the first sanctuary class room for the church.

He said, “That building was built in 1938 out of stone. We want to preserve it. It is not going anywhere, and it is not being demolished. It is being turned into a Danville community pavilion. The stone walls, roof and fireplaces will remain; only the windows and casing around them and doors will be removed.

“We are pouring a concrete slab and adding picnic tables inside and eventually playground equipment for children to play. It is to be used by anyone needing a place for a reunion, picnic, birthday or anniversary – it is open to the community.”

Although inside walls are coming down fast with all material salvaged for other projects, by early spring, the pavilion should be completed and ready for a dedication ceremony.

On Sunday, October 11, the board voted for the pavilion to be named the Bobbye Hearell Pavilion.

Pastor Freeman said, “The vote was unanimous. If anyone in the Danville community deserved to have that building dedicated to them, it should be Bobbye Hearell, for the many hours she worked in that building and throughout the community.

Like other families in the area, Bobbye’s parents, S.K. and Janie Greene, were associated with the oilfield. S.K. worked for the Arkansas Fuel Oil Company and the family lived on the Hughey Ross lease. Bobbye had four brothers and two sisters. all of whom attended Hughey School (near the old Gregg Home of the Aged). The children walked to school every day and walked home for lunch.

Bobbye was valedictorian when she graduated from seventh grade, a common practice at the time. She went on to graduate from Sabine High School in 1944 and Kilgore College in 1946.

Bobbye said, “In 1947, I married Seaborn Hearell. I was working for Halliburton at the time. We moved to Sherman for four years where he was a juvenile officer. It was in Sherman that I decided to continue my education, received my degree and taught one year.”

The couple had the opportunity to move back to Kilgore, and she began teaching in the Kilgore Independent School District. She received her master’s degree from Stephen F. Austin University and became Special Education Coordinator and Principal at Danville School.

Bobbye officially retired from teaching in 2002, but remains a vital part of the community. She was secretary of Helping Hands Organization, the Danville Cemetery Association, Danville United Methodist Church and secretary for the Shiloh Methodist Church in Cass County.

Due to health reasons, a few years ago, Bobbye moved to Nacogdoches to be near her son, Dr. Will Dale Hearell. However, she keeps in contact with Kilgore friends and associates on a daily basis, considering it her mission to “do something” for someone every day.

She said, “I taught 10 years out of 40 in that school building at Danville. It was all special Ed students with first, second and third grade being held in an adjacent building.

She said, “I am so glad they didn’t tear the building down. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard they proposed to dedicate the building in my honor. I was totally shocked and it certainly is an honor. I feel like Danville is my home and I have been in Kilgore almost of my life. Praise the Lord – such an honor.”

Out of the old comes the new – phase one for First Baptist Church of Danville is the completion on a community pavilion and dedication. To God be the glory. Just wait until you hear the rest of the story.

In the meantime, May His Love and Laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. We may be reached at chitchatlinda@aol.com or (903) 984-2593.

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