By Betsy Finklea
New Dillon County Sheriff Douglas Pernell took the oath of office on Sunday in the courtroom of the historic Dillon County Courthouse in a special session of court with Chief Justice of the S.C. Court of Appeals James E. Lockemy presiding.
The Rev. Dr. Rodney McCorkle of Manning Baptist Church, Pernell’s pastor, conducted the program.
The Rev. Dr. Roanell Hough, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, gave the opening prayer.
Cynthia Pernell, Pernell’s wife, recognized the dignitaries who were present.
The Rev. Dr. James Orr, pastor of Pyerian Baptist Church, gave a prayer of appeal for unity to the community.
Joyce Pernell, sister of Pernell, gave remarks. She recalled when Pernell was a boy and played Deboy (Graves) and Earlia Ray
(Vanderhall) with James “Hoghead” Campbell showing his interest in law enforcement at an early age. For the record, Pernell always was Deboy.
She shared many other family memories showing this was his calling.
She also talked about the past 12 years that he ran for office. She said the last four years he got ready to do something, he stopped and prayed.
She said this is what he wanted to do. She said it has been a long-time coming. She said Pernell will arrest people and recalled the day he came to the house to arrest his own brother.
Former Sheriff Harold Grice talked about what an excellent deputy Pernell was specifically recalling his work to break up a Jamaican drug ring that had invaded the county. He also noted that while Pernell worked for him, he was actually hired by former Sheriff Greg Rogers. He also talked about how much other agencies such as SLED, the FBI, and others liked working with Pernell because he did a good job and spoke of his good work ethic. He said Pernell tries to help people. He said he believes that the public will see a change.
Attorney David Watson recalled working with Pernell in the courtroom.
He said Pernell knew what cases needed to be worked on and which cases needed to be dismissed.
Chief Justice James E. Lockemy was the keynote speaker. He gave
remarks with the theme “Find A Way.” His remarks are published in their entirety below.
Bishop Michael Goings, pastor of Outreach Family Fellowship Church, offered words of encouragement.
The program portion was followed by the oath of office ceremony.
Chief Justice Lockemy administered the oath. His grandson, Douglas B. Pernell, III, and wife, Cynthia, held the Bible.
Pernell thanked everyone who came to witness the ceremony. He said he ran for the people of Dillon County and for being able to help someone else. He said this is not an overnight task. It will take each and every citizen in this county. He said he hopes 20 years from now people will say they saw a change in Dillon County.
A special plaque presentation was made by the family of Earlia Ray Vanderhall, the first African-American deputy in the county. Special prayer and laying of the hands was done by Rev. Dr. Orlando McCauley, Jr., Saint Matthew AME Church. The benediction was given by Rev. Dr. McCorkle.
PHOTOS BY JOHNNIE DANIELI/THE DILLON HERALD
Click once on a photo to bring it into a single screen, and then again to enlarge.
Remarks at the Oath Of Office Ceremony of
Douglas B. “Humbunny” Pernell
New Sheriff of Dillon County, South Carolina
Dillon County Courthouse
January 3, 2021
Chief Judge James E. Lockemy
South Carolina Court of Appeals
Good afternoon everyone!! I am honored to be here at this historic occasion. My duties as a South Carolina Circuit Judge and now as the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals have not only taken be all over our state but has required me to attend judicial functions throughout the United States. That is why I can assure you this is indeed an historic event. I have seen arrests made in Fairfield by Sheriff Bubba Montgomery. Enforcement of the law in Apache country out west by marshals with names reflecting the stars and the heavens. I heard
of Sheriff “Big Man” Washingale making arrests in New England and others sheriffs with names like Standing Water in Montana and Hard Rock in Arkansas. I can tell you without a doubt that we in Dillon County will have the one and only sheriff in the entire country named “Humbunny.” Yes, indeed, this is an historic occasion.
Like probably most of you, I was not sure where he received that name. Well, I found out. When he was very young a friend of the family would tell people that when he walked it looked like a bunny coming toward you hopping and a humming. As time went on, it was first bunny and then they added hum. I guess “hum bunny” is better than if he was called “bunny hop.”
Even so Reverend McCorkle, I am ok with Humbunny, I just wish he was not a Washington football fan—he should be a Cowboy like us.
As you take office, I am sure that you appreciate the important tasks before you. Over time, these tasks are not going to grow smaller but larger. You have surrounded yourself with a great team of dedicated people to help meet the needs of law enforcement in Dillon County but when it all comes down to it the people of this county are looking to you, Sheriff-elect Douglas Pernell, to find a way to enforce the law fairly for all people.
There will be days when you will wonder if you can carry on. The people need you—find a way. There will be a time when a grieving mother comes to you because her son or daughter has succumbed to the evil of addiction to drugs, and they need your help. You will think, I am here to solve crimes, to do bigger things than just help some young person who has voluntarily messed up their lives—no, Douglas—find a way. No matter how hard you work, no matter your dedication, there will be those who criticize you—they always do—right preachers????. You will want to quit or to say something you should
not. No, Douglas, carry on—find a way.
You will become so involved in your work that Cynthia begins to
wonder if you remember your family. Douglas and Kobe and little
Douglas the III (DJ) and other family members will feel that you have forgotten them—no, Douglas, do your duty as sheriff, but love and cherish your family—find a way.
When this is all over and one day it will be, it will be them who are there to comfort you, love you, through victory and defeat.
You will find those who want to say, I knew him when, and he was not as good then. Don’t let this deter you. Look to the future, the people have put their faith in you as Sheriff for 2021 and beyond.
They are not interested in the past. Go forward—find a way.
Finally, it would be naive to say that racism has fully left our community.
The vast majority of people judge people on merit and as Martin
Luther King, Jr dreamed by the content of their character. But like everywhere else, there are still those few who look at skin color as a measure of a person. Some will openly shout slurs at you as you arrest them for alleged crimes. Some will challenge your patience and your fortitude.
Remember, you are sworn to protect all people and to provide all people with equal enforcement of the law. Treat even those who treat you wrong with fair justice and equal consideration. It will be hard but—find a way!!!!
Douglas, like me, you grew up in Newtown. We are both proud of that.
We remember the days of fun and pure happiness when all races could enjoy life there.
We smile as we remember Lucille Page and her gold Cadillac as she ran a wonderfully upscale lounge called After Hours, we remember the hardworking Armstrong boys and their family, we remember the Goings who could build almost anything—we cannot forget Daniel Blue, the Williamsons, the Campbells, the wisdom imparted by Rudy Leach, and the big heart of a Mary Blue as she recruited little cub scouts to make righteous men of them. I hope that the gathering place of Lockemy’s Grocery will be remembered as a happy place to socialize and shop. We know though that it is not like that today. Due to many reasons, many of them more complex than most are willing to admit, has infiltrated the area and now it does not appear to be a
safe place for families. I pledge to you that I will help and others will volunteer also to do all we can to return that area to place business can thrive, children can play outside without fear, young people can have hope instead of despair and the call of evil drugs or gangs.
You now are sheriff, you have an ability to make a difference in Newtown and other needed areas of the county and to encourage others to do so—no, Douglas, do not forget your home, our home, an important part of Dillon County that has a positive potential—I implore you, I challenge you and yes, I beg you—find a way.
Now as you take you office, I remind you of the words of Paul as he wrote to the Ephesians.
He was telling them to know themselves but yet not to be boastful or too proud as some are when they reach high positions, and to knowtheir duty.
Douglas, my sheriff, I leave you with these words from Ephesians, 4, 1-3:
I therefore a believer in the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called. with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.
Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Sheriff Douglas Pernell—it will be hard, but—find a way.