When officers faced their darkest days, they could always talk to Darryl Dale, the humble and warm chaplain who truly became a part of the department he served.
“He really did see it as a ministry and an opportunity for him to reach people who were hurting and going through some very traumatic times,” said Craig Dale, Dale’s son and senior pastor at Ivy Creek Baptist Church in Buford.
Dale, a volunteer chaplain for agencies including Gainesville Police, died Monday, Jan. 4. He was 81.
“You can’t really describe Darryl because he was such a great and humble fellow,” said longtime friend and Hall County Coroner Marion Merck, who said Dale was truthful to all those he encountered.
Gainesville Police said in a message acknowledging Dale’s death that he was “an instrumental part” of the chaplain program who helped make it what it is today.
“Police chaplains many times carry the weight of the world on their shoulders,” according to a post on the Gainesville Police Facebook page. “They provide emotional and spiritual support to employees, their families, and the community during times of crisis, sorrow and conflict. We will forever be thankful for Chaplain Dale and the many lives he touched throughout his career. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family.”
In addition to the Gainesville Police Department, Dale served as a chaplain for the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Northeast Georgia Medical Center, according to his obituary.
According to his obituary, Dale served in the U.S. Navy after graduating from Riverbend High School. He became ordained and served as pastor at Springway Baptist Church in Gainesville among other churches.
Ret. Gainesville Police Capt. Chad White said he took part in revamping the chaplain program in 2011, and Dale was one of the two chaplains chosen.
“When we revamped the program, we were looking for several folks that had a strong faith in God and of course was a pillar of the community, someone that supported the police department as well as our officers and our other employees,” White said.
White said Dale fit that bill, someone on-call 24/7 to provide the emotional and spiritual support for officers and their families. Dale left the chaplain program in 2017.
“I think his personality and the way he came across, he was a person that when you spoke to him, he’d listen,” White said.
Friends and family described Dale as someone who always had a smile and a joke, a man who wanted to reach people and care for them.
“To me, he was my best friend and my mentor and my father. All of those things,” Craig Dale said.
A small private graveside service will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6, at New Bridge Baptist Church Cemetery. A larger celebration of life ceremony will be held at a later date.
Flanigan Funeral Home in Buford is in charge of arrangements.