FLORENCE, S.C. – Waymon Mumford has served in many capacities in Florence, such as a police officer, pastor and member of Florence County Council, but for him, service is just the right thing to do.
On Tuesday, The School Foundation is honoring Mumford during the annual School Foundation Gala for his servant’s heart.
“I’m just a public servant, and I’ve always loved people,” Mumford said. “I look at these positions as an opportunity to help somebody along the way. It does my heart good when I can do something for someone – even when I don’t get any thanks for it. I just do it because it’s the right thing to do, and I have a heart to do it.”
Mumford said he always wanted to be a police officer or in the military. After graduating from Wilson High School, Mumford decided to go into law enforcement and moved up the ranks from a patrolman to police chief in the city of Florence Police Department.
Mumford said he was blessed to have been safe while in law enforcement.
“I was just blessed, because it could have been the other way,” Mumford said. “I enjoyed every minute of it. If I had to do it all again, I’d be right in the mix of it.”
During his time in law enforcement, Mumford had moments where he saved people’s lives.
One time, Mumford and his partner at the time, received a phone call for an armed robbery at a Hess station in Florence. They responded to the call. Mumford’s partner went after one of the armed robbers, and Mumford came face-to-face with an armed man who was trying to rob the store.
Mumford said he told him repeatedly to drop the weapon, and the man didn’t respond. Mumford, hiding behind his cruiser door, aimed to shoot the man.
“Now, I was a pretty sharp shooter,” Mumford said.
But this time Mumford missed. In response, the man dropped his weapon, pulled everything out of his pockets and surrendered.
After taking the man to the police station, Mumford found out the armed robber was deaf.
“That story, I could see it just as plain as day,” Mumford said. “I could have taken his life, and if I had taken his life and found out later that he was deaf and that he couldn’t hear what I was saying, I’d have to live with that the rest of my life. I thank God every day that I didn’t take his life.”
The armed robbers got 21 years in prison, and at the end of their sentence, they came straight to Mumford’s office to thank him for not taking their lives, and they said they were going to live straight.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Mumford said.
Mumford had multiple people in the community who encouraged him to go back to school to continue his education.
“They could see a bright future for me in law enforcement," he said."I couldn’t see it, but they saw it,”
Mumford went to Florence-Darlington Technical College for his associate’s degree in criminal justice and did off-site classes with Limestone College in public administration.
Mumford said he was the first member of his family to receive a college degree. Both of his parents had about a second-grade education, he said. Mumford also said his education has paid off in his life.
“Education is the key,” Mumford said. “You really need that if you want to succeed in life. There’s just no way around it today. Your brain, especially as a young person, is like a sponge. You should soak up everything that comes your way. It will pay back. You won’t regret it.”
Mumford continued his education after Limestone College and pursued the seminary to answer God’s call into ministry, he said.
For the past 21 years, Mumford has been a pastor. Nineteen of those years have been at Central Missionary Baptist Church in Florence.
Mumford serves on the South Carolina Baptist Convention board and is a member of the National Baptist Convention board of directors.
In addition to being a pastor and his position on the Florence County Council, Mumford also serves on the National Association of Counties and the South Carolina Association of Counties board.
Mumford said he doesn’t do it for the awards or accolades, but he does it because he loves people.