“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability . . . (Matthew 25:15)
Broadie B. Jernigan (’22) understood the full meaning of the Scripture and set out in in life to fulfill it! He knew that God so loved the world that He have His only Son, so that whoever believed on Him would have eternal life. But he also knew that God needed a lot of help getting that done – so many people and so few workers!
Jernigan spent his life seeking to share God’s love in any way he could or knew how. Let’s see how he got there.
The beginning for B. B. Jernigan was January 19, 1989, in a tenant farmhouse in Darlington County. Eight years later, he began school. Twenty-two months afterward his father his father took him out of school. He did so because he was afraid that the smallpox vaccination, which was being given to everyone, might have bad effects on his children. (He had lost a leg because of a sore, which came up on his leg and would not heal, and he didn’t want the same thing to happen to his children.)
More than 10 years later, Jernigan decided to come to North Greenville High School because he’d been told that he could work his way through. He sent a telegram to the college” “Expect Monday P.M. – Make Room.” He was 21 years old when he began the eighth grade. His first courses were Latin and spelling!
He laughingly remembers the time when he told Harvey Gibson (then a student, now an English instructor) to eat green persimmons and the times when he and Harvey rode the bulls up to the barn to keep from walking.
Jernigan left North Greenville and went to Mars Hill College and from there he came to Furman. While at Furman, he began to put actions with his preparation. He established a Sunday School and then a church – Park Place Baptist Church, Greenville – in 1925. One year later, he married Zoe Pangle.
In 1928 he moved to Aiken County, where he would pastor two churches – Bethcar and New Holland – for the next nine years while he taught in Wagener public schools five of those years. From there he went to the First Baptist Church, Loris, where he was in 1941 when he decided to join the Sunday School Department. From that time until March 1, 1966, he spent his time and energy organizing, strengthening, and undergirding the Sunday School programs in Baptist churches all across South Carolina.
One could stop here and say that B. B. Jernigan had used his talents wisely for the Lord, but to do so would be to miss the “real” story of the life of B. B. Jernigan.
Shortly after moving to Columbia, Jernigan brought a 14-acre tract of land five miles out on South Beltline Boulevard. He, his wife, and the three daughters built a three-room, temporary house (which they fondly called “the shack”) to live in while they built the family home. They built it almost completely by themselves over a period of six years, Columbia has since grown well beyond the Jernigan home place, which is considered a showplace to area and state people who know B. B.
One would truly have to talk to B. B. Jernigan and see his home firsthand to understand this many-talented man. The grounds – rock walls of rocks from all across the country and the gardens of flowers and trees that came from the mountains to the coast – demonstrate Jernigan’s love for God’s creation. Azaleas, camellias, and boxwoods grace the landscape in every direction. Jernigan likes to raise boxwoods as a hobby, so one can understand why hundreds of them in all shapes and sizes lace the garden.
Jernigan says, “I saw Jesus in the garden, and I asked Him to let me live until I could reach the house.” Two years back he had been working in the garden and had suddenly collapsed. Feeling near death, Jernigan had been able (after his request) to make it into the house, which was about 150 yards away, uphill. He woke up in the Baptist Hospital in Columbia and discovered that he had lost 17 pints of blood from a bleeding ulcer. There’s still something sacred about the spot in the garden!
Jernigan chuckles as he tells on about his cars – he’s only owned six in his life, has paid less than $4,700 for all of them and still has four of them. He says the 1963 Chrysler he is driving now will be his last car. He has logged mileage such as 400,000 miles on an old Ford and 219,000 on the “gray goose,” a 1953 Plymouth he used for many years traveling for the Sunday School Department.
His first wife, Zoe, died a few years back. Fond memories of her are still evident. He chuckles as he tells of how he proposed to his second wife, Pauline. They had been somewhere to ear, he recalls, when he asked her how she would like to be Mrs. Jernigan. “We haven’t known each other long enough,” was her reply. “If 25 years isn’t long enough to know someone, I don’t know what is,” he exclaimed. (They had worked in the Sunday School Department together – he for 25 years, she for 40).
Jernigan is indeed a man of God who proves the Scriptures. Always quick to have something funny to say, he has a zest for life at 79 that seems to be increasing daily. After 12 years of retirement, he is still supplying in churches and has served as interim pastor for 11 churches across the state.
The warm smile, the dry wit, and the open heart of love for his fellow man are trademarks for B. B. Jernigan exudes. North Greenville honored him as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1969 and it based much of its decision on these very traits. Jernigan retired or not, refuses to stop promoting Sunday School work and sharing the Good News.
“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance . . .” (Matthew 25:29a).
Article published in the October 1978 issue of the North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter