Not long ago, I was playing telephone tag with someone and they kept getting my recorded voice message. When they finally reached me, they quickly responded, “Is this the Real Wayne Wiatt?”
Our amazing staff keeps getting questions about the “Real Wayne Wiatt,” so I thought I would attempt to try and fill you in with some of the answers …
The Real Wayne Wiatt
…grew up on Cherry Lake about 8 miles north of Madison, FL, off a dirt road. I am the third of four siblings: Steve, Sarah, Wayne, and Thomas. At the age of 3, I learned to swim with Florida wildlife and bread-fed bream nibbling at my toes! I was water skiing by the age of 5 and driving a boat soon thereafter. We had a horse named Wendy and lots of Beagle/hunting dogs. My dad, Steve Wiatt, worked for Owens-Illinois Paper Company outside of Valdosta, GA. My mother, Sue Wiatt, taught senior English, speech, and drama at Greenville and then at Madison high schools and was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma (International Educator’s Society). She went on to teach the Bible throughout Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
… remembers singing at Cherry Lake United Methodist Church standing on a piano bench. I took piano lessons through elementary and high school, played the organ for Wednesday night prayer meeting at First UMC Madison, sang on stage with my guitar at the Stephen Foster Folk Festival in White Springs, won top vocal soloist as a boy soprano at the Florida Music Guild competition in Miami Beach. I tried my hand on the guitar, accordion, violin, clarinet, and saxophone, but ended up with a Sacred Music Degree with a vocal performance major and pipe organ minor from Oral Roberts University (ORU). (Don’t ask me to sub for Viktor, I haven’t played the pipe organ in public since my senior recital!) I finished my higher education with a M.Div. and a D.Min. from Emory University.
… moved to Valdosta, Georgia, in seventh grade through high school, was the District UMYF Youth Council President, toured with “His People” folk group sponsored by the South Georgia Conference UMC, and was a member of the award winning Valdosta High School Marching Cats. In the summer before college, I worked as a Boiler Lancer at my dad’s paper mill in Clyattville, GA. (You don’t want to know how hot it is next to a recovery boiler in the middle of July!) I took a long winter break from Valdosta State and moved to Aspen, CO, to snow ski for the winter season after struggling as a business major.
… married Ramona Folds in 1979, Titusville’s ‘75 Junior Miss, who majored in television production with a minor in drama. Ramona and I started dating during a production of My Fair Lady at ORU. We were married in Marianna by The Rev. Phil Roughton, former associate pastor at Trinity. Ramona’s grandfather, Victor S. Bevis, was the owner and operator of Bevis Dairy Farm in Malone, FL, and Ramona’s grandmother, Willie Mae Taylor Bevis was an educator. Ramona’s mother, grandmother, and aunt (all educators) along with my brother Steve (Marine Biologist) all graduated from FSU! I earned my MDiv and DMin at Emory University while carrying baby Matthew to class in a snuggly! Ramona is related to the Bevis and Messer clans in North Florida through her maternal grandparents.
… has a son, Matthew Stephen Wiatt, who is married to Katie McEntire Wiatt, whose father, David McEntire is the pastor of First UMC Lakeland. Matt and Katie are film makers with Indieatlantic Films (based out of Lakeland, Florida) www.indieatlantic. film.
… has a daughter, Taylor Wiatt Stokes, who is married to Phillip Thomas Stokes, both employed by the University of Florida and the brand new parents of our first grandchild, Coraline Mae Stokes! Taylor is the Assistant Director for Leadership Initiatives at UF and Phillip is an Education Specialist at UF with the Center for Public Issues Education (P.I.E.)
I Love Being Your Pastor,