When Fran and Paul Holberg moved to Puryear in 2009, they were welcomed by their new neighbor, Darvin Paschall. He stopped by in his pickup truck, greeted them with his hand extended and introduced himself saying, “I don’t know why but everyone calls me Whiskers.”
Fran says he looked like Willie Nelson, so the name Whiskers was quite appropriate.
Paschall lived a long life of 83 years in Puryear and, before his death on Oct. 11, he was a friend to everyone he possibly could be.
The Holbergs recall how Paschall would constantly stop his truck during drives and talk to people, always saying, “If you need anything, just let me know.” He would go by his neighbors’ houses to check up on them, he would let people in need live in his home, he would go to the nursing home in Puryear dressed as Santa Claus every year and take pictures with residents and children, he would even assist in search and rescue missions on the back of his horse Billy as an honorary deputy.
“He grew up here and loved roaming this bottomland. I think most everybody knew him in the area because if he was feeling well he would be driving about looking at where he grew up, where his old school was, where the old sawmill was where he worked, where arrowheads were found on Ponder Hill, and mostly, talking to people,” said Fran.
Paschall spent many years of his life as a truck driver, formerly with the Henry County Farmers Co-Op, which allowed him to see many different parts of the country. However, according to the Holbergs, he always said Henry County was the most beautiful place he ever saw. He especially loved the area of the Terrapin Creek Bridge on Terrapin Creek Road in Puryear, off Highway 69 northwest of Paris.
“Whiskers told us about that bridge that’s been washed out at least four times during his life, probably more,” said Fran. “When young, he was on the school bus and about to go over the bridge. The bus driver saw the condition of the bridge and told all the children to get out and walk across the bridge first. After they did he drove across and then the bridge fell in. It was great hearing that story several times.”
The creek underneath the bridge would drain the bottomlands and when there were large amounts of rainfall, the water would rise up just under the level of the bridge and the creek would get wider than the bridge so it destroyed the bridge ends. Now the bridge has since been rebuilt to be higher and longer extending over the creek, and is now named The Darvin “Whiskers” Paschall Memorial Bridge in his honor.
“Whiskers loved to check on this bridge’s progress. In fact the workers let him be the first person to drive over it with his car,” said Fran.
It is only fitting now that, because of the efforts of the Holbergs, County Mayor Brent Greer and County Road Supervisor Richie Chilcutt, the name Darvin “Whiskers” Paschall can now be seen on a memorial road sign in front of the bridge. It is a special honor for Paschall’s six children, 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren who carry his blood in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and North Carolina.
“I’m absolutely so proud of this bridge named after my daddy,” said Pam Paschall-Davis, Whiskers’ daughter. “If anyone deserves a bridge named after them, it certainly was him. As a long distance trucker, he put many miles crossing this bridge and the few previous bridges that were there. The little wood bridge wasn’t made for a semi, but Whiskers wasn’t bothered at all to take it across.”