Making the move to Henderson, without any prerequisites

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 08:52 PM

Roy and Carolyn De Brand lived in Henderson for 22 months while he served as interim pastor of First Baptist Church. They left in August of 2012.

Now they’re back. They closed on a house on Parker Lane earlier this month.

“When we left here, we left our hearts here,” Carolyn said.

The typical newcomer to Henderson is brought to the city by a job or a spouse’s job, or to care for family.

For the De Brands, it was different.

“This is the only place we’ve moved that we didn’t come for a position,” Roy said. “It was a deliberate choice. We found community in First Baptist Church and in Henderson.

“Every place we go people are helpful and friendly. There are a lot of good places to eat. We’ve kept Mazatlan in business.”

“I grew up in Texas,” Carolyn said, explaining her taste for Mexican dishes.

Roy was a pastor for 29 years and teacher of theological education for 18 years. That career has allowed the couple to live in many places. Roy’s pastorates included churches in Ft. Worth and Richmond while in Texas; Americus, Ga.; and Franklin, Va.

He has also had temporary assignments in the Bahama Islands; Vienna, Austria; and Germany.

His teaching has taken him to a seminary in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest; and Campbell University Divinity School, from which he retired 3½ years ago.

So when they considered where to live in retirement, they had many choices.

They thought of moving into a townhouse, but the accumulations of 49 years of marriage made downsizing difficult.

“Harold Frazier showed us some wonderful properties,” Roy said. “But when Bill Mast showed us this place, we decided to take it.”

The De Brands have two grown children, DeAnn and Brian. Their parents’ moves allowed them to meet foreign leaders and other dignitaries.

While Roy was pastor of First Baptist Church in Americus, President Jimmy Carter worshipped there and also visited the De Brands in their home.

On one visit, DeAnn asked the president, “Do you want to come to my room and see my dolls?” He did, and after his visit, the president kissed her goodbye. The incident made a lasting impression. She’s grown up now and has a son. His name? Carter.

DeAnn is an events manager for the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona and also a zumba dance and fitness instructor. Her husband works for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

Brian is a travel specialist for the Carlisle Company, planning trips for corporate executives. His wife is a pharmacist. They have two sons.

Carolyn said they wondered what effect the family’s frequent moves would have on their children.

“It’s been good for them,” she said.

DeAnn and Brian have shown resourcefulness and adaptability.

Carolyn said, “When they were ready to go to college, it was just another adventure for them.”

Roy grew up in Miami, Fla., Carolyn in Texas. They met at the University of Corpus Christi (now Texas A&M at Corpus Christi), a small Baptist college.

Carolyn received degrees in education and art and began teaching.

Roy said, “I told her, ‘If you put me through school, I’ll support you for the rest of your life.’” That contract hasn’t ended.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree from the University of Corpus Christi, Roy earned a master of divinity degree, a doctor of theology degree and a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.

Since closing on the Parker Lane house, the De Brands have spent their time repainting and making other changes.

It was in good shape, they said, but the changes will make it “our own.” Roy explained, “We look at owning this house as a sacred trust.”

That kind of commitment was also reflected in the approach Roy and Carolyn took to his teaching. Carolyn said that at the end of each semester, the last class session would be in their home.

Roy explained, “If you just have a classroom relationship, it’s very sterile.”

One spare bedroom will be Roy’s study. He has written six books: a book of biographical sermons, a book of sermons on the resurrection and post-resurrection era of the New Testament and four books of children’s sermons.

Another bedroom will be Carolyn’s art and sewing room.

While they appear to be forming an attachment to the house, it’s a sure bet they won’t spend all their time there.

They’ll be out immersing themselves in the community they discovered on their previous stay in Henderson.


Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.