The community has lost one of its greatest public servants, but will honor the life and accomplishments of Vivian A. Taylor Jr. The Lord called him home on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, at UPMC Chautauqua. By God’s love and grace, he is now reunited with wife of 67 years, Lula Taylor, who passed away earlier this year.
During his remarkable life, Vivian lived through the Jim Crow South, the, Great Depression, stood and talked with Civil War veterans at a young age, dined with future presidents and first ladies, and worked with governors, senators, congressmen and other political figures across all branches of government.
Vivian’s greatest memories were shared with his wife of 67 years, former Chautauqua County Legislator Lula Mae Taylor. The Chautauqua County community often recognized them as a couple, whether having breakfast at the Jamestown Airport, attending services at the Blackwell A.M.E. Zion and Emmanuel Baptist churches, or enjoying Sunday lunch at Ponderosa or the Ellery Country Cow, where they knew all the employees by name.
The son of the late Vivian A. Taylor Sr. and Pinky Lee Ramseur Taylor, Vivian was born Oct. 27, 1924, in Baltimore, Md. He was born in the colored ward of John Hopkins Hospital. He graduated High School in Oaklawn, N.C. Vivian then attended Stillman Institute in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and was the 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 war, he attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.
In 1950, Vivian met the love of his life, Lula Taylor. After a two month courtship, they were married Aug. 14, 1950, in the First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. Shortly thereafter, they took a train to Jamestown N.Y., and started their life together.
Vivian earned his degree from SUNY Fredonia in the 1970s. He also spent over 30 years working at Marlin Rockwell in Jamestown. Vivian immersed himself in a lifestyle of community service. Over his life in Chautauqua County, he compiled a impressive record of community service. He served a total of 24 years as Jamestown City Councilman (1976-92), (1996-98) and (2000-06). During Vivian’s three different stints as councilman, he was never defeated in an election. He served as a board member for the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum, board member for the Senior Citizens Center; Jamestown Civil Air Patrol Senior Squadron member; and former 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 Americas. Vivian was featured in Rolland Kidder’s book ” A Home Town Went To War” where Vivian tells stories of his life and World War II experiences. Further historical accounts of the war and life were heard in Vivian’s words during a must see interview on the Robert H. Jackson Center’s social media pages.
Vivian had many more individual accomplishments, but his most notable achievements were those reached as a team with his wife, Lula. Together they co-founded the Chautauqua Black History Committee and were co-chairpersons of the Jamestown Interracial Forum. While attending the Blackwell Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, they served as director of Youth Fellowship and were choir members and trustees. They served as members of the Reachout Ministries, Underground Railroad Tableau Project Steering Committee and had also served as coaches of the Love School softball team, The Evening Stars.
Following retirement from the city council, Vivian’s accomplishments and service were referenced alongside Lula’s accomplishments when added to the Congressional Public Record by Congressman Brian Higgins. They were the first benefactors to help establish the Stephen Pangborn and Willie Hayes Memorial Cancer Fund and the Live To Tell Fight Against Suicide Team. The Taylors were recipients of the John D. Hamilton Community Service Award presented by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation in 2007. The couple was also honored in 2015 during the Catherine Harris Birthday Celebration at The Marvin House.
Aside from his accomplishments, Vivian will always be known for his many stories of his life, the famous or infamous people he has met, or just the man that would go out of his way and drive to three different grocery stores in a day to talk with the employees and friends he knew.
In addition to his parents, Vivian is preceded in death by his younger siblings: Estelle James, Addie Lou Friday, Robert Taylor and Charles Taylor.
Surviving are Vivian’s aunt, Flossie Parks of Arlington, Va.; two children: Lavon (Jose) Cruz of Jamestown and Myron Taylor of Charlotte, N.C.; a grandson, Michael Shackelford-Taylor II of Philadelphia, Pa.; granddaughter, Claudine Taylor of Charlotte, N.C.; a great-grand- son, Shaquille Pearson- Kinsey of Falconer; great- great-granddaughter, Kali Pearson of Frewsburg; and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Emmanuel Baptist Church. Officiating will be the Rev. Leroy Walker and the Rev. Maria Jones, both of Emmanuel Baptist Church, and the Rev. Reggie Smith of Blackwell Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church.
Friends will be received from 4-7 p.m., Monday in the Lind Funeral Home.
Donations may be made to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation for the endowment of the Lula and Vivian Taylor History Scholarship Fund.