By Ralphine Major
For years, our big yellow school bus made a stop at the Harrell home. I cannot even remember a time when I did not know the Harrell family—two parents, two daughters, and two sons. The father is long-time Halls resident Rev. Dallas Harrell. He grew up in Washburn in Grainger County, Tennessee, with his parents, sister, and three brothers. Though the family attended Salem Primitive Baptist Church, Dallas was saved at home when he was in his mid-teens. The young Harrell attended Washburn High School and was a varsity basketball player. During his senior year, the team only lost two games. After high school, the Washburn graduate landed his first job at Winter Garden in Knoxville. But it was at a theater in Washburn where he went to watch the movie, “Harvey the Rabbit,” that he met his future bride, Joretta Antrican. Dallas and Joretta were married in June of 1953. Over two years later, on November 11, 1955, Dallas announced his calling to preach. He was 22 years old.
The couple’s family soon became six, and one of the young father’s principles was that he always worked to support them. Daughter Linda Harrell Tunstall remembers her father’s often complicated work schedule. “While being a pastor, Dad also worked as a Teamster driving trucks in the Knoxville area for different companies for many years. If he was part of a layoff at one of the freight lines or if that company went out of business, he had to work the ‘Extra-Board.’ The shifts he had to work could be any day or time. To work full time, his shifts would sometimes be Tuesday through Saturday or sometimes his shift would start at 4:00 a.m. Since his work did not have a route that would require over-the-road driving, he wasnever too far from home.“ With a wife and four children, being near home was surely important to Rev. Harrell.
“Even during those busy years of raising a family and working a public job, Dad continued to share God’s Word. He continued to love and minister to numerous families during their times of joy and happiness as well as those times of sadness and sorrow,” daughter Nina Harrell Roberts recalls. “He has always taken time to visit the sick and those who have lost a loved one,” she added. I remember calling the hospital on a Sunday evening when our former pastor, Rev. Ralph Berry, had suffered a stroke. I spoke to Grace Berry, his wife, who told me that Dallas Harrell had been by to visit. Both Berrys are deceased now, but how special it must have been to have another pastor visit them in their time of need. (Next week: Part 2, The pastor’s life today and the legacy he will leave.) Happy Father’s Day!
Book signing, Fountain City Lions Club, 5345 N. Broadway, Tuesday, June 19, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Local Authors Day Book Signing, Barnes & Noble, 8029 Kingston Pike, Saturday, June 30, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.