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Johnny Taylor Sr. spent 43 years helping customers at the Melrose post office.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
A crowd with streamers and balloons floating overhead hushed Saturday night in northwest Roanoke.
Sitting around tables decorated with festive blue and white covers, everyone turned toward glass doors at the front of the Cultural Arts for Excellence building. Approaching the doors was a man in a tuxedo, blindfolded with a black bandanna, led by his wife.
And as he blindly crept into the room, the crowd exploded with a surprise for a father figure and community staple who, in January, left his job at the Melrose post office after 43 years.
Johnny Taylor Sr., known for his helpful persona at the post office and his devotion to family at home, took off the blindfold and saw a group of admirers who had come to celebrate his retirement. Standing next to a long table filled with his children and grandchildren, Taylor thanked his family and friends for organizing the surprise party.
“I’m going to cherish this right here,” he said.
At a table in the middle of the room, Lois Croan praised Taylor as a long-standing role model.
“He’s been a good inspiration to the young black men of this area,” Croan said.
Croan, who went to high school with Taylor and now resides in Franklin County, pointed to Taylor’s most prominent role as a father. He, with his wife Jeanette, raised four of his own children and has also taken in seven foster children over the past 13 years.
“He showed them the right way,” Croan said. “They can get things they want and do it the right way.”
Taylor, who relished customer service at the post office, said he lives by the simple rule of treating others as he wants to be treated.
“I’m always doing something to try to make a difference in someone’s life,” he said.
Johnny Taylor II, Taylor’s son, said his father set a strong foundation for his children in a neighborhood where many households were run by single parents.
“It’s a lot easier for any man to come into his own with his father supporting him,” Johnny Taylor II said.
And the community began to notice his father’s basic principles, Johnny Taylor II said. His father’s work at the post office, he said, showed how he worked for something more in life. Taylor also served in the Army and Army Reserve .
Taylor is a deacon at Morning Star Baptist Church, where church clerk Marion Smith said he brings the same service from the post office to the congregation. Many church members rotate driving a bus to pick up members without transportation and bringing them to services and events.
Taylor, she said, takes personal note of the people he picks up. Last year, she said, he noticed a woman who got on the bus without a coat.
“The next time he drove the bus,” Smith said, “he had that person a coat.”
Taylor retired at the end of January and said he plans to continue his active role in the church, as well as take some time to travel.
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