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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Local Legends: Dr. David Darnell

Did you know that Enid is the adopted home of one of the country’s best Hebrew and Greek scholars? Meet Dr. David Darnell. Born in Clovis, NM in 1931, the 91-year-old retired professor, preacher, professional scholar, and writer says he is working harder and is more productive than he has ever been.

Dr. Darnell’s father was a very successful builder in Texas, until he lost everything in the Great Depression and moved to New Mexico. From there, he started several other successful businesses including oil distribution, a service station and sold wood and coal. It was expected that Dr. Darnell would take over for his father, but God had other plans. “I was with a group of other boys driving home after winning the State Boxing Championship,” Dr. Darnell recalled, “we were all drunk and got into a very bad accident. I luckily did not have any bad injuries, although some of the other boys did, but I had a voice telling me this was not the way. My dad was a church planter, so I felt it was a call to be a preacher boy and decided to study religion at Abilene Christian and then Florida Christian and eventually got a degree in religious studies.”

Education became a lifetime calling for Dr. Darnell, both as a teacher and a student. He went to Brite Theological Seminary at TCU where he earned a Masters of Divinity, then to Duke where he earned his doctorate in Biblical studies with an emphasis on Hebrew and Greek. “Languages always came easy to me,” Dr. Darnell said, “I learned Spanish as a kid in New Mexico and have kept on learning!” Dr. Darnell has taught all over the United States, and often preached at the same time. He has a real heart for small churches and due to his time growing up in a multicultural church in the 1940’s, has been at the forefront of the civil rights movement, and has championed multicultural and multiracial churches for more than 70 years. While he was in North Carolina, he had a battle with the Ku Klux Klan about a desegregated church, and even had a public debate with a Klan member with each quoting scripture. Later, while preaching in Plano, Texas, he supported a Spanish language church and service at the same church home he was at, and eventually ended up preaching church services in Spanish himself in Coral Gables, Florida.

Along the way, Dr. Darnell became friends with Jimmy Carter, while he was still a farmer, was on the forefront of the debate in the Church of Christ regarding musical instruments during service (which caused his parents not to speak to him for a time), and helped translate a small part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Retired pastor Wade Burelson said, “Dr. Darnell is one of the finest Hebrew scholars in the United States. He is a friend to many, including the British, German, and Israeli Dead Sea Scroll scholars and Enid is blessed to have Dr. Darnell, and his lovely wife as residents.”

Dr. Darnell was married to Sarah for 64 years before her passing, and they have 4 kids, 8 grandkids and numerous great-grandchildren. He has been married to Enid native Edith for five years, who he was delighted to meet after Sarah’s passing. You can find him studying, writing and teaching private language lessons in his home office, and often Edith will do a puzzle next to him while he works. Dr. Darnell is a true “Local Legend.”


Robert Faulkhttps://enidmonthly.com
Robert R. Faulk is the Publisher and Editor of the Enid Monthly. Robert graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.A. in Political Science and has his J.D. from the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He is originally from Oklahoma City, but is happy to have lived in Enid since 2004 and calls it "home."



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