(SWEETWATER) – Homer K. Taylor of Sweetwater left a legacy not only at Texas State Technical College, but also throughout Nolan County.
Taylor, who died today at age 83, is being remembered for his lasting contributions and many years of service to TSTC.
TSTC Chancellor Mike Reeser commented on Taylor’s enduring importance to the college.
“Homer Taylor served our college for close to 30 years, and it’s impossible to overstate the impact he had on our successes. We owe much of our prosperity to his leadership,” Reeser said. “On behalf of the entire TSTC family, I offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Beth, his children, and the Taylor family.”
Glen Bedgood, a professional development officer at TSTC in Sweetwater, noted Taylor’s foresight when it came to matching education with industry needs.
“Homer was a visionary in many respects,” Bedgood said. “He was well ahead of the wind industry in West Texas, implementing a wind energy technician program at TSTC in concert with the construction of the first turbines in the area. Graduates of the training program have enjoyed a high placement rate for years.”
Taylor worked for TSTC from 1970 until his retirement in 2005. During that time, he was an assistant campus manager, manager of instruction, dean of instruction, manager of development, college president and vice chancellor of the TSTC system. The TSTC Board of Regents later gave him the elite distinction of naming him president emeritus.
“Homer was always thinking about growing the impact of TSTC,” Bedgood said. “Any time that I traveled with him, he would leave his business card with everyone he met, telling them that they owed it to themselves or their kids or friends to look into TSTC as a life-changing investment.”
Bedgood recalled that some of his earliest memories of Taylor were of greeting him at church on Sunday mornings.
“I listened to him pray and teach Sunday school,” he said. “He was investing in me. Years later, he hired me, or at least suggested that I apply for an opening at the college, and continued to invest in me as an employee. When I started my family and was trying to make a little extra money on the side, he would buy my artwork.”
Among the many people on whom Taylor made a positive impact is Maria Aguirre, TSTC interim senior executive director of Communication and Creative Services.
“I met Mr. Taylor in early summer 1984,” said Aguirre. “I attended what was then TSTI, and shortly after I arrived, Mr. Taylor hired me as a PBX operator. After graduation, he encouraged me to apply for a Student Recruitment position, and through the years he promoted me to other positions within the college. Long story short, nearly 34 years later, I am still very proud to be part of TSTC. He was a true mentor, teacher and friend. I will miss him dearly.”
Taylor taught high school in Jayton and Sweetwater for 11 years.
“Homer was my high school English teacher,” said J.V. Martin, a former member of the TSTC Board of Regents and a founding board member of the Nolan County Foundation. “Homer was very close to me. He was a student’s ideal teacher as far as his personality. He was young enough at that time. He was not much older than the students. It was like having a student-teacher teaching you.”
Taylor was public relations director for Sweetwater Public Schools (now Sweetwater Independent School District) when he was asked to serve on the Sweetwater Study and Survey Committee for the Utilization of Air Base Facilities, which formed when the Sweetwater Air Force Radar Station was deactivated in fall 1969, according to TSTC historical accounts.
A group of committee members met with Dr. Roy Dugger, then vice president of Texas A&M University and director of the James Connally Technical Institute (now TSTC) in Waco, about opening a technical campus on the grounds of the former radar station.
Taylor’s first role at the Sweetwater facility of the Texas State Technical Institute was as an assistant manager starting in 1970. He, along with D.A. Pevehouse, facility manager, and two office employees, worked in the old Texas Bank Building in Sweetwater. Taylor saw the campus later become the Rolling Plains Campus of TSTI and Texas State Technical College West Texas.
“He was always so friendly and talking to everybody and anybody that was here on campus,” said Lupe Deloera, a human resources senior specialist at TSTC in Sweetwater. “He was such a smart guy and always had his door open if we had any questions. We felt like we could ask him anything. We felt so comfortable around him.”
TSTC in Sweetwater honored Taylor in 2006 by renaming College Drive as Homer K. Taylor Drive.
“He followed my career and has been an encouragement to me long after his retirement,” Bedgood said. “I get to remember him every day as I turn onto Homer K. Taylor Drive heading to my office at TSTC.”
After his retirement, Taylor helped create the Nolan County Foundation, which has given about $300,000 to Nolan County students attending Texas colleges. The foundation has also supported Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital and Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium, Martin said.
Taylor earned an associate degree from Cisco Junior College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in education and English and a Master of Education degree from Hardin-Simmons University.
He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Hardin-Simmons University in 2011.