Remembering Glenn Jernigan …

            A community is less today because a selfless man has left our midst.

            Glenn Jernigan was a giver.

    He put others first before himself, following in the creed of Rotary International that was dear to his heart.
            “I look around this room and I not only see friends of mine, but friends of this community,” Glenn Jernigan said on that December morning in 2016, when he was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, one of Rotary International’s more distinguished recognitions. “And I have been blessed by your friendship. I thank you for the honor and thank you most of all for being my friends. I feel very, very blessed, and I am so grateful.”

            His words were Glenn Jernigan personified.

   He said as much on April 10, 2019, when nephews and nieces Frank Maynard, B.J. Maynard, Bonnie Maynard and Judy Tyndall invited family and friends at the Carolina Inn terrace for a celebration of Jernigan’s 80th birthday.

            He was dapper in his navy blue blazer and his humble self. His silver hair was coiffed to perfection, and his effervescent, welcoming and engaging smile radiated like the sun shining down from the blue sky above.

            There was a proclamation from Mayor Mitch Colvin reminding us of “his dedication to the welfare of others” and that Glenn Jernigan “has earned the respect and affection of people from all walks of life and all ages …  and in his own way has been a force for good and a stabilizing influence on those around him.”

His Word Was His Bond

            Glenn Jernigan was the youngest of 14 children and grew up in Lenoir County before Claude and Lydia Jones Jernigan would relocate their family to North Ramsey Street in this city. He immersed himself in people, was graduated from old Fayetteville High School in 1957 as class president in what would be a forerunner for a political career in state government.

            He also was class president and “Outstanding Student” at Campbell University before transferring and graduating in 1961 from East Carolina University. He returned to this city in 1963, married his high school sweetheart, Jane Clark, became a banker and developed his own realty and investment business.

            He was honest.

            His word was his bond.

            His word was your trust, and that public trust would send Glenn Jernigan to Raleigh, where he served two terms in the N.C. House from 1971 to 1975 and three terms in the N.C. Senate from 1975 to 1982.
            “A stellar citizen of the community,” the Rev. Ernie Johnson, retired pastor at Highland Presbyterian Church, said at that 80th birthday celebration for Jernigan that brought 75-some well-wishers to include former Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler and Norwood Bryan, who served with Jernigan in the state legislature.
            And always at Glenn Jernigan’s core was his Christian faith, and there were few Sunday mornings where you couldn’t find him on the church’s fifth- or six-row pew, his head bowed and his Bible nearby.

‘Always Remember …’

            Glenn Reginald Jernigan peacefully died Sept. 3, 2021.

            He was 82.

            “One of the last things he told me was ‘Always remember, I love you,’” Frank Maynard says. “And that he was ready to go. There are so many he quietly helped in his life, whether it was helping someone get in school or get a job or financially. He was a very loyal member of the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville for many, many years and received many distinguished awards from the local Kiwanis Club. He was chairman of the club’s Farm City Day and was club president in 2002. And something else about Uncle Glenn, he never forgot where he came from.”
            Or his friends along life’s way.
            “When I think of birthdays, I think of presents,” Glenn Jernigan said on his 80th birthday celebration. “And when I look out here, I see the gift of all my friends. Thank you so much for your fellowship and your love. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My gift is you, my friends being here.”

Epilogue

            My heart broke for Glenn Jernigan, when Jane Clark Jernigan, the love of his life for 50 years, died Nov. 10, 2013. Just as Glenn Jernigan’s heart broke for me when my Mama died Dec. 17, 2009.

            And I always will remember my tears on Dec. 21, 2009, standing by Mama’s casket and looking out at the man in the white raincoat as a soft rain fell at the little white church at the Harnett and Moore county line.

            He was solemn.

            His heart hurt for me.

            A graveside service is scheduled for Glenn Jernigan at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lafayette Memorial Park.

            I will be there.

            You can be assured, old friend, I quietly will be there, as you were for me.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@cityviewnc.com, billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961