Former REC Manager Dies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

RICH SQUARE – If Vernon Taylor was physically able to do so, he would have grabbed a tool belt, hopped in a bucket truck and took part in the largest electrical power restoration project in the history of Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC).

However, a mere 48 hours following REC’s celebration of a job well done, the local cooperative sadly learned that Taylor, the man hailed as the driving force behind the success of the Rich Square-based business, succumbed at Nash General Hospital in Rocky Mount. He was 89.

&uot;REC is what it is today because of the efforts of Vernon Taylor,&uot; said Eugene Brown of Rich Square, who succeeded Taylor as REC’s General Manager in 1981. &uot;I worked for him until he retired and then I used what he had taught me when I was appointed General Manager. I owe a lot of what I accomplished as a General Manager to him.&uot;

Brown continued, &uot;He set the standard when it came to working in a learning environment. He would give you a job to do and then expected you to complete that task. He wasn’t the type to stand over your shoulder and bother you while you were following his orders. He was a mighty good fellow to work for and he will be greatly missed.&uot;

Taylor’s success in the business was rooted deep in his work ethic. His association with REC began in 1938 where, hired by the fledging company to construct its first electrical grid system, he actually set the very first pole erected by the utility in Halifax County. The rest, as they say, is history.

Two years later, Taylor was employed as an REC serviceman and superintendent of construction. On March 20, 1944, he was promoted to General Manager, a position he held until retiring on Feb. 27, 1981. Upon his retirement, Taylor had put in nearly 41 years of loyal service to the cooperative.

&uot;Under Vernon’s leadership, Roanoke Electric grew from serving just Halifax County to a cooperative that served seven total counties,&uot; noted Brown. &uot;His vision is why Roanoke Electric is in the position of leadership it enjoys today.&uot;

Currently, REC serves Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton and Perquimans counties.

Not only did Taylor play an instrumental role in REC’s success from the beginning, but he was a community leader as well. He served two terms as Mayor of Rich Square, was a charter member of the Rich Square Rotary Club and served on the governing boards of Planters National Bank and Meredith College.

Taylor’s devotion to the betterment of young people was evident through his association with the Boy Scouts of America. He served as Scout Master of the Rich Square Troop as well as holding key positions with the East Carolina and National Councils of Boy Scouts of America.

Under his leadership, Rich Square produced more Eagle Scouts in proportion to municipal population than any other town in the state. Numerous awards by the Boy Scouts came his way, culminating in the Silver Beaver, Scouting’s highest honor.

&uot;Vernon was not only my friend, but a friend to all here in our area,&uot; said Billy Ivey of Rich Square. &uot;I am proud to call him my friend. He was an asset to our community, a real go-getter. He knew how to get things done.&uot;

Ivey also praised Taylor’s leadership role at REC.

&uot;My wife worked for him at Roanoke Electric,&uot; noted Ivey. &uot;She thought the world of Vernon Taylor. He was a great boss and a great man and will be greatly missed by so many people.&uot;

Taylor was also extremely active in his church, Rich Square Baptist. There he served as Chairman of the Board of Deacons.

Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday at Rich Square Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Cedar Lawn Cemetery of Rich Square.

Memorial donations can be made to Rich Square Baptist Church or to the American Cancer Society.