Former Item reporter passes
David Farrell loved history and loved to tell stories, which showed in the stories he wrote as a journalist for more than three decades with several newspapers including the Picayune Item, the Jackson Daily News and The Poplarville Democrat.
At the time of his death, he was writing a blog composed mostly of news stories he wrote about events around Picayune and Pearl River County and about the history of the area.
His death sent a shock wave through his friends and the fans of his blog, “David A. Farrell at-large.”
He was at the stadium to watch the Picayune-Pearl River Central football game, an event he was covering for his blog. Farrell had a love of football, a game he played in high school and at Pearl River Community College. Former teammates described him as an accomplished player. Farrell was named first string of the 1962-1963 All Big Eight football team, sending him to the state All-Star game in Jackson, said Granville Stockstill, the Maroon Tide’s quarterback, and Frank “Twig” Branch, Farrell’s coach at Picayune Memorial High School.
“I met him when he was in the ninth grade, just a little, red-headed guy,” Branch said.
Stockstill said, “He had the best balance of any running back I’ve ever seen, you couldn’t get him down. He had great upper-body strength. … It was truly amazing to toss him the ball and watch him run down the sideline.”
Stockstill and several other people, including his son Robert “Andy” Andrew Farrell, remarked on Farrell’s speed when he ran. “It was a privilege for us just to sit back and watch him go,” said Stockstill. “He was just a solid, good guy.” Andy Farrell said he and his dad ran together and sometimes his father would sprint from one end to the other on Farrell Street, where the family home is located. “I have never seen anybody run so fast.”
Andy Farrell said his father was also very supportive of his children. “He was always 100 percent supportive. Whatever you did, be it music or sports or whatever, he supported us.”
Farrell was as passionate about his journalism career as an adult as he had been about football when he was younger. His father earned a master’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University after getting out of the U.S. Army in the early 1970s, said Andy Farrell. David Farrell served three years in the army and spent a year in Vietnam.
He started his journalism career with the Picayune Item but took a hiatus from journalism, learning to drive trucks and spending several years on the road before coming back to the Item. He also wrote his popular blog for a short time between retiring from trucking and coming to work for the Item shortly after Hurricane Katrina.
He gave up his blog during the final years with the Item and returned to it after retiring from the paper in 2013.
Mayor Ed Pinero said in a text of Farrell’s career as a journalist, “Mr. David was a great man! Over the years, he provided many instructional and thought-provoking stories. His wit and wisdom will be greatly missed.”
Fr. John Filkins of St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Picayune said he ran into Farrell at several sporting events and “especially at City Council meetings. … David was passionate about his craft. Following his involvement with the Item, he could have sat back, but he didn’t, he had his blog. … David’s insights and honesty, so necessary, are missing in today’s media.”
Councilman Wayne Gouguet said he didn’t meet Farrell until he ran for office about five years ago. “The thing that struck me about David was—I knew his politics – (but) he really believed in the obligation of the press to serve the public. … He wrote a neutral and informative article. I think he was committed to informing the people and the public of Picayune and the area about what was going on – passionately. He will be missed.”
Services for David A. Farrell are at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Roseland Park Baptist Church. Visitation will be from 9-11 a.m. at the church. Burial will be in New Palestine Cemetery under the direction of McDonald Funeral Home.