First Cousins Meet At Last!

On this day . . . November 23, 1863 . . . the color photo process was patented. So to celebrate this day in history as well as celebrate an invention that definitely changed our lives, I share a  color photo I took with some First Cousins I met for the very first time this year!

First Cousins

From (l. to r.) Juska Ann, Liv, Roland, Mom, Bettye, Reginald, and Ralph

Earlier this year, I blogged about the murder of my mom’s sister, Aunt Estella Chapple Thomas (read, “Blue Monday: Woman Killed,” for more information). At the time of her death, she was the mother of 5 children (Carolyn, Charles, Roland, Juska Ann, and Donna Marie) – ranging in ages 1 to 7. After Aunt Estella’s  death, her children (with the exception of the baby, Donna Marie, who died 2 months after her mom from Nephritis) were sent to live with their father who was a soldier in the United States Army overseas. Some years passed before they would return to the US and Texas. Because they were so young when all this happened to them, they literally did not remember any of their mother’s side of the family by the time they were stateside.

Well, some recent Chapple Estate matters have made it possible for me to finally meet my first cousins Juska Ann and Roland Thomas for the very first time on August 25, 2012! This meeting also made it possible for my cousins Bettye, Ralph, and Reginald (my Aunt Ella Louise‘s children), to meet them for the very first time as well . . . woo-hoo!

First Cousins

From (l. to r.) – Juska Ann, Roland, Bettye, Reginald, and Ralph

But the most important point in all this is that my mother got to spend time and see the smiling faces of  all her sisters’ children. This was such a wonderful reunion and a day we won’t forget!

Mom with Nieces and Nephews

From (l. to r.) – Juska Ann, Roland, Mom, Bettye, Reginald, and Ralph



Remembering Daddy

Remembering Daddy: The funeral services and obituary of my beloved father, John W. Taylor (1927-2010)


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Bro. John Willie Taylor
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Eleven O’clock a.m.
Fifth Ward Missionary Baptist Church
4300 Noble Street, Houston, Texas 77020
Rev. Leonard Barksdale, Pastor


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Where there is a beginning, there is an end . . .

BIRTHPLACE: Chappell Hill, Texas
BIRTHDATE: February 22, 1927
PARENTS: Willie Taylor and Louise Newsome Hubbard
MARRIAGE: Carrie Chapple for 61 years
CHURCH AFFILIATION: Brotherhood, Deacon, Trustee, Financial
Secretary for 38 years
SUNSET: February 7, 2010

Left in God’s care and to cherish his memory is his devoted wife, Carrie; two sons Elgin Taylor and wife Nina, and Jon Taylor; one daughter Marlive Taylor-Harris; one sister, Elaine Mayberry; three granddaughters, Nicole Taylor, Nichelle Taylor McLemore and husband Jason, and Nia Taylor; grandson, Marcus Bowie; two great-granddaughters, O’Liveja Bowie and Taylor McLemore; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Family Reflections

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My family is not known for being quiet. There is always a lot of loud talking and laughing when we all get-together. What I always noticed is that my grandfather didn’t seem to say much. But when he spoke everyone else shut up. He usually told a funny story about someone he knew or something from his childhood. He spoke softly, slowly, and deliberately. When he finished his story, we all erupted with laughter because it was naturally a hilarious story that he told. Then the noise level would resume. I always think of my grandfather as a man who loved his family and used his words well.
— Nicole Taylor

I have a lot of wonderful memories of Papa — making homemade ice cream, helping us crack pecans, going to Prairie View to farm, and many many others. But, what I have thought about the most in recent times is how proud he was of us all. I know that he was always praying for us and so proud when we did good things. At family gatherings, as we all sat around and enjoyed a great meal together, he would sit at the head of the table and would just beam. His expression said it all — I love my family, and I am so blessed and so proud. I will always miss and love my proud Papa.
— Nichelle Taylor McLemore

Papa grew the best sugar cane and made the best pecan pie. But, what I cherish most is his love for his family, his beliefs in right and wrong, and his dedication to hard work. Everyone should be so fortunate to have such an example.
— Nia Taylor 

When my mother was stuck at work, and my grandmother was trapped at home, it was my grandfather who came and got me from daycare during a tropical storm. I was 4. He carried me on his shoulders, and the water was up to his thigh. He was determined to get me home. Now what makes this story so memorable to me is the fact that my grandfather hated water because he could not swim but he put his fears aside to get me to safety. He became my second father, and I know he loved me every day of my life. He was a man of practical wisdom and was the epitome of strength for our family. Today, as I attend his funeral, I am not miserable or sad for I know he is beside his heavenly Father watching over us. I will miss him dearly, but I know his legacy will live forever.
— Marcus Bowie, Angel Boy 

Order of Service

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Processional                                                                     Final Viewing



Congregational Selection                                                “I’ll Fly Away”

Scripture Readings
Old Testament  —  Psalms 23
New Testament — I Corinthians 15: 51 – 57


Solo                                                                             Betty Armstrong



Obituary                                                         (Soft Music, Read Silently)

Solo                                                                                Nicole Taylor

Eulogy                                                               Rev. Leonard Barksdale


Servant of God, well done. Thy glorious warfare past;
The battle is fought, the race is won,
and thou are crowned at last.

The Family

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Acknowledgements & Internment

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Elgin Taylor
Hodges Armstrong
Jon Taylor
Ralph Marshall
Marcus Bowie
Jason McLemore
Reginald Marshall

The family of Bro. John Willie Taylor acknowledges with grateful appreciation the prayers, cards, flowers, and the many kind expressions of sympathy during the passing of their loved one. May God bless each of you.

Golden Gate Cemetery
8400 Hirsch Road
Houston, Texas 77016

Robey Funeral Home
“A Family of Helping Hands”
403 W. Sterling Avenue
Baytown, Texas 77520
Telephone (281) 428-9911

Fine Print Designers
(281) 458-9800

Military Monday: Maybe a Forgotten War, but not a Forgotten Military Life

Veterans Day 2011 is this Friday (Nov. 11), and there will be celebrations and parades going on across this country to honor our veterans for their service, commitment, and ultimate sacrifice to this country!

Sgt. John W Taylor
Sgt. John Willie Taylor

My father, John Taylor, was drafted at age 18 to serve in the U. S. Eighth Army’s 169 2nd Engineer Battalion in Masiwa, Japan on December 4, 1945. According to the US Army’s website, “[t]he Eighth United States Army was officially activated on June 10, 1944, and ordered to South Korea where … they were to: disarm Japanese military forces; destroy the nation’s war-making potential; conduct the trial of war criminals; guide the defeated nation into peaceful pursuits and the democratic way of life; encourage economic rehabilitation, local autonomy and education and land reform; guard installations; protect supply routes and watch over government operations. After World War II, Korea was divided into North and South.  The peace in Japan eventually came to an end June 1950 when North Korea (Communists)  invaded South Korea (non-Communists). This invasion was the start of the Korean War. That war lasted for three years until an armistice agreement was signed in July 1953. So why is this war called a “Forgotten War?”   Some historians say it was “a police action” that failed to resolve the crime it was called to resolve.

USAT General A.W. Greeley

The USAT General A.W. Greeley was the ship that transported my father to Japan right after basic training. This ship, named for the U.S. Army General Adolphus Greely,  was eventually transferred to the United States Army as USAT General A. W. Greeley in 1946. In 1950 this ship was transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) as USNS General A. W. Greely (T-AP-141) and later sold and converted to a container ship and operated under several names before being scrapped in 1986.

Battalion Motor Pool Masiwa, Japan, 1946

During his tour in Japan, my father was a Motor Sergeant in the Battalion Motor Pool. He was responsible for the duties of 80 enlisted men and the maintenance of 80 vehicles. His duties included: touring the motor shop daily; inspecting completed and new repair work; suggesting improvements and assisting with all problems requiring more extensive knowledge of repair;  assigning drivers to vehicles and checking with office personnel on reports and requisitions; supervising the requisitioning of all parts and equipment.

Dad was Honorably Discharged from the Army at age 20 February 13, 1947, in Camp Beale California. Just as the tour he was involved in would become known as the “Forgotten War,” once stateside, my father’s military experience in America’s segregated Army from 1945-1947 became a “forgotten experience” for him as well! Anyone who spent any time with him would never guess he was a veteran if he didn’t tell them — and he usually didn’t! There were no military mannerisms about him that folks could detect that would lead to any conversations about his Army life either. The only time I can recall him ever taking advantage of benefits available to him as a veteran was when he decided to use his GI Bill to attend and pay for college.

My father died February 7, 2010, and since his death, I’ve learned more about his military life — as I go through his personal effects and research about the war he served in — than I ever heard or learned from him. Among his things, I’ve found:
– military photos of him that my family has never seen before
– Military Payment Certificates and Japanese Yens during his tour in Japan,
– his original Enlisted Record and Report of Separation – Honorable Discharge documents.

I haven’t located the  World War II Victory Medal and Army of Occupational Medal that his discharge paper says he received. But I’ll keep looking for them and for much more because the more I learn about this part of my father’s life, the more relevant Veteran’s Day this year and years to come will be for my family and me!