The Community Foundation’s John D. Hamilton Community Service Award exists to honor individuals who have shown “dedication, leadership, and support in furthering community spirit and enhancing the quality of life in the Chautauqua region.” Two individuals have exemplified this phrase over their lives in Chautauqua County, which is why Vivian and Lula Taylor of Jamestown have been named the Award’s 2007 recipients.
For 50 years of his life, John D. Hamilton served on local boards and was an active volunteer, a business leader and community advocate. Chautauqua County is a better place for John D. Hamilton having been a part of it. The same statement can be said of Vivian and Lula Taylor.
Vivian Taylor attended Stillman Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. During World War II, he served in the European Theater of Operations until 1945, receiving various medals and battle stars. After the Army, he attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and would later go on to earn a degree from SUNY Fredonia in the 1970s. In his professional life, he spent over 30 years working at Marlin Rockwell in Jamestown. After marrying Lula in August 1950, the couple moved to Jamestown, and Vivian immediately immersed himself in a lifestyle of community service. Over his life in Chautauqua County, he has compiled an impressive resume: 24 years as a City of Jamestown councilman; board member for the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum; board member for the Senior Citizens Center; Jamestown Civil Air Patrol Senior Squadron member; former member of Chautauqua Region Family Services; commissioner for the Boy Scouts; and member of the YMCA’s “Y’s Men”. Awards he has received include: the Dewitt Clinton Award, which is awarded by the Masonic Lodge for community service, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Award, and being named to the Who’s Who Among Black Americans.
Lula Taylor’s service and accomplishments are just as vast and inspiring as her husband’s. She attended JCC, taking courses in Labor Management, and worked for Proto Tool in Jamestown, which was a division of Ingersoll-Rand Company, for over 20 years. For 14 years, Lula served as a County Legislator and was the first African American woman elected to any county legislature in New York State. In addition to serving the people, she has also worked for improvement of the community through the following organizations: Chautauqua County Board of Health; Chautauqua County Health Network Advisory Board; Office for the Aging Advisory Board; Falconer Rotary; and she sponsored the first public AIDS awareness forum in Chautauqua County in 1996. In recognition for her community service, Lula was awarded the DeWitt Clinton Award in 2003 with her husband and was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement for her work through government in 2005.
The Taylors’ individual service and achievements have been very notable, as has their service together. As a couple, they are co-founders of the Chautauqua County Black History Committee; co-chairs of the Jamestown Interracial Forum; attend the Blackwell Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, with Mrs. Taylor serving as Youth Director of the Youth Fellowship; served as members of Reachout Ministries; the Underground Railroad Tableau Project Steering Committee; and have been very involved in Euclid and Washington School PTA.
The Taylors received the John D. Hamilton Community Service Award at a ceremony in their honor on September 6. However, they are to be commended every day for the service they have given to the Chautauqua Region. The Taylors have indeed followed in the footsteps of John D. Hamilton and their work continues on today.
Published in the September 9, 2007 edition of The Post-Journal