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Citizen Spotlight – Tee Taylor

Citizen Spotlight – Tee Taylor
Judy Lacey / 13 Aug 2016 / 17 Comments » Comments

Tee Taylor’s wife Beth Taylor is his biggest cheerleader.

“He’s a jack of all trades — a carpenter, an excellent mechanic, a good cook; he could fix anything. He’s Mr. Fixit,” Beth Taylor confided. “He could even sew; he made clothing for himself and his nieces and nephews. When he was growing up, his parents owned a dry cleaners and tailor shop, and they taught him little things, so he came by it naturally.”

A photo of Beth and Tee in 1975. Photo courtesy Beth Taylor

A photo of Beth and Tee in 1975. Photo courtesy Beth Taylor

Tee Taylor was raised in New Jersey and moved to Lake Havasu City in 1991. The Taylors have two grown children: a daughter Leah, who lives in Havasu, and a son Jesse, who lives in Denver.

A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Tee Taylor has worked for the Lake Havasu Unified School District for 22 years, all of them at the high school. For 17 of those years, he worked for Aramark Food Services, the contractor that provided meals for the schools. He was one of the very first people hired by Aramark, and became the head cook.

Beth Taylor explained that when Aramark lost the contract, Taylor was sad because “he loved the kids and wanted to stay around them.”

And he did. He remained at the high school after being hired by the district as a security guard.

A scanned photo of Beth and Tee Taylor in 2011 during a photoshoot. Tee often leant his cars for pinup photoshoots for local photographers and pinup models. Photo Courtesy Beth Taylor

A scanned photo of Beth and Tee Taylor in 2011 during a photoshoot. Tee often would lend his cars for pinup photoshoots for local photographers and pinup models. Photo Courtesy Beth Taylor

Tee Taylor also loves classic cars. He has been a member of One Summer’s Night Cruisers car club for about 14 years. Taylor has several cars, “but his pride and joy is a 1947 Studebaker pickup, the same year he was born. He and a good friend, James Bagwell, painted it yellow, his favorite color. I think it was called ‘Tequila Sunrise.’ He also had an Army green rat rod which he exhibited at shows. The kids really liked it because it had bullet holes and he made a machine gun out of a crutch and mounted it on the car. He loved to see kids play in that car,” Beth Taylor said.

Still another of Tee Taylor’s passions is Christmas. He spends hundreds of hours planning and decorating their home for Christmas, just as his parents had always done.

He was featured last Christmas in a story in RiverScene Magazine about Havasu residents whose decorations were over the top. The Taylors use 30,000 lights in their display, and he synchronized them to music. They have inflatable figures and a Santa that sits in a rocking chair.  Tee Taylor said that seeing little kids sit in that rocking chair gave him great joy.

A kids Santa's Workshop, builit by Tee Taylor, is sitting in his garage that will be ready for the yard. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

A kids Santa’s Workshop, built by Tee Taylor. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Last year, he added a Santa’s Toyland,  which he built himself using his woodworking skills, and which he encouraged children to walk into.

Tee Taylor said that many people want to donate something to help pay for the electricity to run the display that they enjoy so much. He accepts the donations, but then gives it all to Interagency Council of Lake Havasu City Inc., which amounted to $850 last year. People also bring pickup trucks full of food and toys, which also go to Interagency for families in need.

Tee Taylor has been very happy surrounded by kids during his years of working at the high school, his wife said.

“His one big hope,” Beth Taylor said, “and what he told his boss and all the kids, is that he wanted to walk across the stage with the kids for graduation in 2017. His birthday is in May, and he wanted to graduate with the kids on his 70th birthday.”

Tee wears a shirt given to him and signed by Lake Havasu High School students. Photo courtesy Beth Taylor

Tee wears a shirt given to him and signed by Lake Havasu High School students. Photo courtesy Beth Taylor

But that hope might not happen, as Tee Taylor was diagnosed with stomach cancer in February. It spread quickly, and on July 19, as he was leaving the local VA clinic after a routine appointment, he passed out and fell down. At the ER, doctors found that the cancer had metastasized and spread to his liver. The stomach tumor was bleeding and his blood count was dangerously low, which caused severe anemia. Doctors removed the tumor and two-thirds of his stomach, but they couldn’t risk reconnecting his esophagus, so he was given a feeding tube.

Tee Taylor had been in the hospital since July 19, returning home Thursday. He was told he had just weeks remaining, and Hospice of Havasu is in the home, taking care of his needs.

“I can’t say enough wonderful things about Hospice of Havasu,” Beth Taylor told RiverScene Magazine. “They are very kind, very compassionate.”

Family and friends of Tee and Beth line the driveway to welcome him home from the hospital Thursday afternoon. Jillian Danielson/RiverSCene

Family and friends of Tee and Beth line the driveway to welcome him home from the hospital Thursday afternoon. Jillian Danielson/RiverSCene

On Thursday, some 25 friends were gathered at the Taylor home to welcome him home from the hospital. One Summer’s Night Cruiser’s car club members lined the street with their classic cars, and everyone, including some high school staff, gathered along the Taylors’ driveway to welcome him home when he arrived in an ambulance.

Beth Taylor said her husband was obviously very touched by the number of friends who were there to welcome him home from the hospital. Some of the high school students had made a “Welcome Home Tee” banner, and David Jones and Cliff Cook put up some Christmas decorations to remind Taylor of his biggest passion.

Explaining why he helped put up Christmas decorations, Cook said, “I wanted to do something to thank Tee for all the things he does for our community.”

David Jones sets up a Christmas decoration to welcome Tee home Thursday from the hospital. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

David Jones sets up a Christmas decoration to welcome Tee home Thursday from the hospital. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

David Jones met Taylor about three years ago because they are both part of the Christmas decorating community. “He’s a great guy, does a lot for the community, like taking donations for Interagency,” David Jones said. “I met him just three years ago, but you don’t have to be best friends with someone to do something nice for them.”

Jones’s wife Glinde Jones knows Taylor quite well, as she is the bookstore manager at the high school. She described his personality and connection with kids.

“I met Tee at the end of May 2013,” Glinde Jones said. “I had just started working for the high school. It was senior prank day and Tee came by to give a heads up that the seniors would be on the move. He was having the best time playing cat and mouse with the kids. They all love him. He cuts up with them and makes them ‘do right’ all at the same time. Once things calmed down. we had a chance to chat and discovered we shared a common bond — we are both retired Army vets. It’s like always having family around. There are things that are just understood — no words necessary.”

Beth receives a hug from a friend in the car club Thursday afternoon. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

Beth receives a hug from a friend in the car club Thursday afternoon. Jillian Danielson/RiverScene

“Pot lucks at school were always some of my favorite days,” Glinde Jones continued, “as Tee is a phenomenal chef. His food not only looks good, it tastes good. Christmas came around and he and Beth came by to check out our lights. He was so impressed that he started his own light show and that bond just grew. We would shop, talk about the good old days of Army life and about getting ready for Christmas. I would come home from work and David, who is also a vet, would ask, ‘what’s Tee got planned?’ I would go to work and Tee would ask ‘what has David started building now?’ He is my family and my brother, and I am honored to have met him.”

Lake Havasu High School principal Scott Becker has the highest praise for Tee Taylor.

“Tee is an amazing man at whatever he is doing,” said Becker. “He started at our food service building and affected our staff and students in a positive way there. When he transitioned into becoming one of our security guards he continued that positive effect on everyone. Our students and staff at LHHS are so lucky to have the opportunity to be around such a great role model, man, and human being.”

Cali George is the Career Center Coordinator at the high school and has known Taylor for many years.

“[Tee is] simply one of the nicest people I know, and he has a heart of gold,” George said. “Over the years, Tee Taylor has taught me so many wonderful things and I will forever treasure all of our conversations and his friendship. As a security guard at the high school, he’s been a part of my mornings each day, keeping us safe always with a smile — and the students love him! Tee’s Christmas Winter Wonderland will always be special to my family. Last year he added the train sets and my two grandsons went crazy. Dane still asks when can he go back to the ‘train guy’s’ house. Tee, you are so loved. Thank you for being a part of our lives in so many wonderful ways.”

*Editor’s note: Ronnie “Tee” Taylor passed away Thursday, Aug.18, 2016, just one week after our story was published. Our thoughts go out to the Taylor family.

Video tribute for Tee from the Lake Havasu High School:

Video tribute for Tee from the Pinup Patriettes:

Tee’s homecoming to his family and friends greeting him:

Photo gallery of Tee and Beth:

17 Comments » Comments:

17 Responses to “Citizen Spotlight – Tee Taylor”

  1. Jesse says:

    This is really really nice, thanks you guys for all the love and support. Our family truly appreciates it.

    • Judy Lacey says:

      Tee, it was our pleasure to honor you. You are so loved and respected in our community, especially by the kids, and we at RiverScene love and admire you, also. When I interviewed you at Christmas, I could see in that short time that you were truly a very special person. – Judy

  2. Shelby Arnold says:

    Tee!!!!!! Seriously I need to see you one last time! You need to see how far I’ve come!!!

  3. Jill says:

    He’s one cool dude! I remember him from high school and I graduated in 98. He always had a smile on his face and such a big heart!

  4. LHHS Tee-cher says:

    Tee, you are loved and you have made an impression on so many! Bet your glad to be out of that hospital… Even with the wonderful nurses! 🙂 Looking forward to the Christmas spread this year with your latest addition! “Cancer Sucks!” Thank you for your service, sir! We miss you!

  5. Raquel Figueroa says:

    Thank you so much telling us how wonderful tee Taylor is. I just met him 3 years ago since he liked going fishing with his friend Butch Jones. Both him and his wife Beth are beautiful, kind and thoughtful people. We pray each day for their strength and faith. I pray the good Lord has a nice fishing spot for him.

  6. Terry Mick says:

    Oh Tee…#$%!!!! I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I’m still in shock. Love you, big guy.

  7. Ann Young says:

    Tee I remember the day I walked into Aramark you welcomed me just like a family member. I’m grateful that I got to know and work for you. You always had a smile on your face. You are an inspiration to everyone. Thanks for all the wonderful Times Ann Young and family.

  8. Lisa McLean says:

    Tee you are such a special person you are always kind and loving towards everyone. Thank you Tee for being my friend no matter how much time passed between seeing each other seeing you has always been like coming home. And thank you for all the cooking tips and recipes you taught me at Aramark I think of you everytime I go to chop something wrong (ha ha) or anytime I use one of your great recipes. Thank you my dear friend Love Lisa

  9. Tuller Merrifield says:

    Tee, you have always been a force for good at the high school and in the comminity. You could difuse a situation and make even the worst-behaved kids reconsider there behavior. I always looked forward to hearing what you were up to with your car or your Xmas decorations. And, as it became more difficult for me to get around campus, I loved being taken where I needed to be in your golf cart. Thanks for all you do, friend.

  10. Debbie Born says:

    Tee, I have known you and Beth for some time. Sorry to here of your illness. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Great memories with you from Aramark. You were so kind to me when I was there, boss! Who would have thought I would have my own food establishment….LOL! Happy I was able to come by your house this last Christmas and see your beautiful lights display and to chat for a bit. You are truly a genuine friend to all! Much love, Debbie

  11. Marie Timmons says:

    Tee, my STC students really love you, Skyler, David, Justin, Brandon, and have a special signed drawing coming to you from Phoenix, who misses you and wanted to let you know how much you meant to him. Thanks for helping us with the school garden and pond, even though we did not harvest much, the kids loved it. Take care and know you have touched many lives. Marie Timmons STC teacher

  12. Doug Francoise says:

    @Judy Lacey…what a nice article & tribute to one of life’s finest who is admired & loved by so many…”Tee” had already served his country proudly for 20 years before coming to Havasu & knew the value of hard work & sacrifice & brought those attributes to share with those at the high school…all one has to do is drive by the Taylor’s house at Christmas to realize his love of God’s children…proud to call my fellow Army Vet a brother & friend since meeting in ’94 & know the strength it has taken to fight his toughest fight…

  13. Tina Seifert says:

    Tee, you are surrounded by love! What a wonderful tribute your friends have done. Sorry I didn’t get to know you sooner. Keeping you and your family in my prayers. Beth’s cousin Tina Seifert

  14. Deni says:

    T I’ve known for a long time working together at Aramark always a happy person we had fun doing catering’s feeding the kids at high school I wish I could see you one more time so I can get that 🙂 love you T

  15. Jessica Newcomb says:

    Tee, from the bottom of my heart, I just saw the news, my high school memories always include you. You were someone to relate to, to feel safe around, but most importantly, you were all our friend at heart. Even the kids that didn’t often talk to you, you’d never pass them up. Thank you for showing kindness, and touching our hearts with your positivity and sunshine. With all my love to the family, you were all truly blessed by having him in your lives as we also were, thank you to the family, and thank you Tee, for always putting a smile on a teenagers face.

  16. Den1 says:

    Fly Tee Fly keep those Angels Laughing Love you !!!! 🙂 <3

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