WALKER – Seventy years ago, Roy Covington dressed himself in a new black suit for his first day as Sunday school superintendent at Judson Baptist Church. It would mark the beginning of a teaching career that spanned for seven decades at the South Louisiana church.
By Brian Blackwell
WALKER – Seventy years ago, Roy Covington dressed
himself in a new black suit for his first day as Sunday school
superintendent at Judson Baptist Church. It would mark the beginning of
a teaching career that spanned for seven decades at the South Louisiana
“I have taught from the cradle to the grave,” said
Covington, who recently was honored by the Louisiana Baptist Convention
and Judson Baptist. “God called me to teach and it’s been one of my
most rewarding things I have done. It doesn’t seem like it’s been 70
years since I first started teaching.”
Born on October 2, 1918, in Hall (which is now
considered a part of the Walker community), Covington lived on the
family’s farm with his parents, three brothers and four sisters.
“We had to get up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows before
we went to school,” Covington recalled. “When we got home from school
each day, we worked in the fields of corn, cotton and strawberries
until dark. Then, after we fed the horses and mules, we finished our
chores at 10 p.m. and then worked on our homework.”
When the family was not tending to household chores,
they were active at Judson Baptist Church where the Covingtons
participated in Sunday school, discipleship groups and socials.
“The church was all we knew,” said Covington, who
accepted Christ as his personal Savior and Lord at age 12. “It was our
When he was 17 years old, the deacons named Covington Sunday school superintendent.
“When the superintendent at the church at the time
left because of a split within Judson Baptist, the deacons looked
to me because they knew I hadn’t taken sides in the split,” Covington
noted. “Plus, they wanted a high school graduate, and I had just
graduated from Walker High School.”
At the time, Covington was working at a local saw
mill for $3 a week. He saved five weeks-worth of his salary so he could
purchase the suit before his first Sunday as the superitendent.
Covington continued wearing a suit each Sunday until recently, when
failing health made tying neckties too difficult. He has since resorted
to sports coats and no ties.
Judson Baptist Church also was the place Covington
met his wife, Edna. The couple had planned to marry in early 1942, but
service in the outbreak of World War II delayed their plans.
Serving his overseas duty on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic
Ocean, Covington said his faith was the primary reason for his
During his unit’s first three months on the island
in early 1942, supply ships were unable to reach Covington and the
others because of fear that German submarines were off the coast of the
The soldiers were rationed one slice of bread with a
tablespoon of chile con carne three times a day and one canteen of
“You’d be surprised how much you want water when you
can’t get it,” Covington explained. “Luckily, the ship with our food
finally reached us.
“But when it did, I made a promise to God that if He
got me home to America, I would never complain about what I ate from
then on,” he continued. “And I haven’t to this day.”
The men’s mission – building a landing strip for
allied planes to land and refuel enroute from Brazil to North Africa –
was so secret that parts of Covington’s letters to his fiancée were
It was also on the island that he dodged a bullet that came within three inches of striking his head.
“God spared my life because he had something for me to do and I hadn’t done it yet,” Covington explained.
With so much fear present among his fellow troops, Covington was asked about his faith.
“He was shaken up and asked me if I did a lot of
praying, now that I was overseas,” he said. “I said not really because
I had my praying caught up before I entered the army.”
Covington originally entered the army with plans to
leave after one year. However, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7,
1941, and he remained in the military four more years.
Returning to the States, Covington married his
childhood sweetheart on May 16, 1944. The couple moved to
Camp Hood in Temple, Texas, where Covington was discharged in September
Immediately upon returning to Walker, Covington
resumed his superintendent role until God called him to teach about
twelve years later. He trained Huey Palmer to replace him as
superintendent and began teaching junior boys and girls
Since then, Covington has taught nearly every age group and gender at Judson Baptist Church.
“I taught with the idea God gave to me that I’d do the best I could with what he gave me,” Covington said.
Today, Covington – who retired in 1983 after nearly
38 years as an electrician – is not as nimble as he was in his teaching
prime. His declining health has limited his ability to teach only when
his health permits.
But his family and most church members say Covington still has the gift.
“God called me to teach,” Covington said. “Until he tells me to quit, I’ll keep on.
“We’ll take things one step at a time and I’ll go
wherever He leads me,” he continued. “I’m ready to quit when God tells
me to. But I’ll keep on being obedient to Him, as I always have
throughout my life.”