If you look up the name “Darryl Langford” online, you’ll most likely not first encounter the subject of this column, but rather his daughter. She is also named Darryl and is currently attending the United States Naval Academy, after garnering a bit of fame here in Fayette County for her superior skills in basketball.
But that doesn’t bother Darryl the father, a candidate for Fayetteville City Council. Nothing is more important to him than family, and so the fact that his daughter pops up on google before he does is more a source of pride.
The shared name has created some confusion at times, though. During Darryl the daughter’s first year at the academy, she was going through some bureaucratic medical stuff and when they handed her some paperwork, she was designated as a Lieutenant Colonel.
“Ma’am,” she offered, “This is not me. It says LTC.”
“Is your name Darryl Langford? Then it’s you.”
“I believe this is my dad. I’ll take the pay, though.”
Of course, it was all soon ironed out, and Darryl Langford the father would probably just attribute the mixup to his daughter choosing a career in the Navy rather than the Army, to which he devoted many years of his life.
Langford is equally as proud of his other three children, one who is in the Air Force and another who is pursuing an interest in the field of physical education.
His wife, Markgetta, originally from Baton Rouge, has worked as a director for the Red Cross and as a program manager for non-profits, usually on a pro bono basis. But when asked about her career she replies, laughing, “What do I do? Besides follow him around the country?”
Indeed, Langford’s military years took him and his family across the nation and even the world, from Ft. Rucker, Alabama to Wiesbaden, Germany. From Ft. Hood, Texas. to Seoul, Korea. From Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to Soto Cano, Honduras.
He even did a stint at The United States Military Academy at West Point, where he was an assistant professor of mathematics. He’s loved math since he was a kid and even used to do extra math homework just because he thought it was fun and fascinating.
That proficiency in math undoubtedly served him well when he was piloting Blackhawks, Cobras, and Hueys in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. He also did a tour in Afghanistan from 2005-2006. He says about this time in his life away from family, “They enjoyed Germany, I enjoyed the desert.”
Eventually, retirement from military service loomed and as one of his final postings was in Atlanta, Langford and the family decided to settle in Fayette County. For 12 years now they have called Fayetteville their home, and soon after arriving, Langford began teaching JROTC at Fayette County High School.
Langford had a profound effect on his students at FCHS, and he loved nothing more than being able to mentor them and offer his advice on life’s issues. In fact, many of them still drop by, years later, to seek his counsel on a variety of matters. “You know where I live,” he always told them, and they take him up on it.
Langford loves being able to help the people of his community. He loves Fayetteville and its “pace.” He enjoys the smallness of place and the friendliness of the people. He says, “You have both Democrats and Republicans here, but regardless of your political affiliation, both still care about each other as citizens.” Very refreshing.
As Langford sees it, Fayetteville’s biggest looming issue is how to convince young adults to stay or settle in the area, when there is a demonstrable lack of opportunity and points of interest geared toward the millennial generation. As the current residents age out of the tax base, Fayette County and Fayetteville will see reduced revenue, leading to reduced services and quality of life.
“Kids say there’s nothing to do here and the Chamber of Commerce calls Fayette one of the oldest counties in Georgia,” Langford says. Oldest as in greyest. He wants to do what he can to attract businesses to Fayetteville that will provide young people with professional job opportunities, which will then in turn lead to a more youth-oriented atmosphere that will allow them to remain in Fayette, instead of having to move away from their families, to Atlanta or even farther afield.
Langford feels that the larger tax base derived from this plan will allow for the emerging traffic issue to be addressed. “There are ways to mitigate the traffic problem,” he says. “People don’t like change. I get that. But what is going to be best for the city? What is going to be best for our citizens? Sometimes change is inevitable.” Langford claims it is best to address this inevitability head-on, rather than just ignore it and be caught unaware when the problem would be harder to fix.
Langford is also not in favor of Pinewood Forrest breaking off from Fayetteville to incorporate itself, as this would further reduce Fayetteville’s tax base.
Another issue that Darryl feels strongly about is the controversial passage and the rescinding last year by the City Council (and County Commission) of designating April as Confederate History month. The proposed commemoration failed to even mention slavery as a cause of the Civil War. There was enough public outcry that the City Council reversed its approval of the measure.
Langford says,” I understand that there is a history, but if that’s a history that is oppressive to a certain people, then that history doesn’t need to be celebrated.”
This stance is tied closely to Langford’s spirituality. He considers himself a “minister of the gospel.” He says, “The gospel tells us to love, and I will stand on that.”
His view of God also explains his stance against RFRA (the anti-gay, so-called religious freedom bill championed by Marty Harbin and vetoed by the Governor). Calling it a “modern-day Jim Crow effort” he says, “We are not put here to judge. Not put here to condemn. Christ died for every one of us.”
While Langford lists among his heroes men such as General Colin Powell and former Nebraska Cornhuskers Coach Tom Osborne, he considers his own father the main influence of his life. He calls him the most Christ-like man he knows.
“If I became half the man he is, I would consider my life a success,” he says.
Langford hopes that as a councilman, his constituents will feel comfortable in approaching him to voice their concerns about the community.
“As a commander, one of my greatest thrills was being accessible to my soldiers. I wasn’t one to sit behind my desk and push pencils. I liked to be out on the floor, getting to know the troops.”
“I genuinely care about this city. And people don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.”
He does know a lot. And cares: about family, god, and community. And the life he’s lived certainly seems to prove it.
Christopher Fairchild is the editor of Panacea magazine and Welcome to Fayette magazine, and works as a photographer and graphic designer. for Fayette Newspapers.