Local Pastor Remembers Falwell

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Many know the controversial Reverend Jerry Falwell that's been on television for several decades.

However, Phil Coomer, pastor of the Lifeway Community Church in Plano, said he knew the "real" Jerry Falwell.

"He was really a giver. I've seen him take money out of one hand - someone would give him a $1,000 and he'll turn around and give it to someone else in the next five minutes," Coomer recalled.

He spent six years as one of Falwell's assistant pastors at the Thomas Road Church in Lynchburg, Va., during the 1980s.

Coomer said Falwell's message may have been controversial, but the work he's done was ahead of its time.

"He did in the 60s, 70s, 80s - what pastors are doing now. He just didn't do it in book form," Coomer explained.

Coomer said Falwell held a strong belief that government and religion should work together, a belief that many rejected and still do today.

"He believed that faith and politics co-existed. They weren't separate. He believed that the fore-fathers influential in starting our country were faith-based," Coomer recalled.

Coomer said that even after he returned to Kentucky to live, he kept in touch with Falwell.

"You could pick up the phone and talk to him. He'd actually talk to you. You might think, 'well I can't get through to him,' but he'd actually talk to you and that meant a great deal just for him to remember the name of people," Coomer said.

Coomer said he was actually supposed to meet up with Falwell next month at a Southern Baptist Convention in Texas.

He said he'll miss Falwell.

However, he's glad to have spent time with a man he said "changed his life."