Second time around is the best
Published 8:35 am Wednesday, February 25, 2004
By BY LYDIA GRIMES
Not many families come to the same city twice in their work, but that is just what happened with the family of Jack Fitts.
They were here in the late 1970s and then came back in 2001 for another time. Fitts is currently the pastor at First Baptist Church of Brewton but he first came here over 20 years ago as associate pastor and youth director.
He was born in Danville, Va., one of three children and lived in the country until he was in the sixth grade. His father was a mechanic and was greatly admired by Fitts.
He attended local schools entering into both the academic and athletic programs. He was a good student and was very active in student government. He particularly liked sports, taking part in all of them. When he was a senior in high school, the football team won the state championship and he remembers it well. He graduated from George Washington High School in Danville in 1969 and entered Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. to pursue a degree in physical education in order to be able to coach and teach. During his high school and college years he did many jobs in order to earn money and remembers some of those times fondly.
When he went away to college he did construction work, was a bricklayer and worked at the local Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant.
He graduated from Appalachian State University in 1973 and became a high school coach and Spanish teacher at Chatham High School in Chatham, Va. Right after graduation he was married to Bonnie, who was the daughter of his barber.
Bonnie was a registered nurse who had gone to school in Lynchburg, Va. They were married in July 1974.
He stayed at Chatham for about two years and was very active in church activities. He began working with the youth and felt the need to get involved even more and with prayer he was led into the full time ministry. He enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. in June 1975 and graduated in 1978. Just before he graduated, he received a call from an old pastor, John Finklea, who was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Brewton. The Brewton church was in need of an associate pastor and youth director. Fitts and his wife moved to Brewton where their first daughter, Kylie, was born. They stayed for about three years before he became pastor of a church in Sulligent, Ala., then First Baptist Church in Danville and then a church in Chattanooga, Tenn.
When John Finklea retired, the search committee approached Fitts about coming back to pastor the church in Brewton, but the time wasn't right.
That reason centered around the health of Bonnie. While they were in Brewton the first time, she suffered what the doctors diagnosed as a brain tumor.
For 10 years she was healthy and was able to work at a hospital as a registered nurse. But she began to show symptoms and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The nerve endings swell and cause various problems and numbness. Her eyesight is limited and she is susceptible to having seizures, some worse than others. At the time they were thinking of coming back to Brewton, they were worried about what it would do to her health. Stress magnifies her symptoms and the move might have been harmful to her.
As time went on, she seemed to be doing better with the advancement of research and modern medicine. Medication helped contain the seizures.
Brewton was still without a pastor and when he was approached the second time, he thought the time was right for the move. In Aug. 2001, they made the move and since that time two other friends from Tennnessee have joined the staff. Randy Winton, the youth director and Rick Gates, the music director are both from the same area and were in the same church in Chattanooga.
Bonnie and Jack Fitts have two daughters, Kylie, who is a second year student at Cumberland Law School in Birmingham, and Ashley, who will graduate from Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn. with a degree in elementary education.
When he is not busy with his many duties, Fitts love to be outside jogging, playing tennis or working in the yard. He also likes to work on his collection of old shaving mugs and barber equipment.