Rest in peace, Roderick Taylor Jr.

My uncle, my father’s half-brother, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Roderick Taylor Jr., a retired teacher, was well-known for his encouragement and mentorship of generations of students, who called him “Chief,” and his tireless community activism.

A classroom at the Colored Graded School (later Sallie Barbour School), circa 1935. Roderick Taylor Jr. is at center in a dark sweater.

Everyone else called him “Bud.”

Roderick Taylor Jr. was born in April 1928 in Wilson, North Carolina, the youngest of Roderick Taylor Sr. and Mary John Pender Taylor‘s three children. He graduated from C.H. Darden High School in 1947 and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University.

Part of the freshman class at Johnson C. Smith University in 1949. Bud Taylor is kneeling in the front row. Catherine A. Gibson stands over his shoulder in a black peacoat.

J.C. Smith’s Spanish Club, 1949.

Roderick Taylor Jr. and Catherine Augusta Gibson were married 20 June 1954 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Pittsburgh Courier, 10 July 1954.
Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1998.
Roderick Taylor on his Faison Street porch, 2017.

Top photo in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson (colorized via; The Bull (1949), yearbook of Johnson C. Smith University; bottom photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.


  1. While I didn’t know Mr. Taylor, his wife, Catherine made a great impact on my life as first a student in her English class and later as a colleague. I would have guessed that her spouse would have been equally influential in the lives of his students, family, and community. My most sincere condolences to you and your family.

    1. He was a very sweet man. I had a pleasure knowing both of them. His wife taught my dad and my dad is his 70s. Chief came to my car wash and I took care of his cars. I will miss him rest on Mr. Taylor.

  2. I am very sorry for your family’s loss. Mr. Taylor seems like quite a man, an inspiration to students and all around him.

  3. My condolence to Mr .Taylors family I grew up in his neighborhood he was a kind person who never met a stranger. Rest in peace!

  4. I met Chief as a freshman at Beddingfield High School. He became an uncle for me away from home. He always had my best interest at heart as he did so many other students. He truly cared about every student. He will truly be missed. My condolences to his family.

  5. Mr. Taylor was always a kind and gentle person. He was a classmate of my mother whose
    name was Nebraska. He would always ask me with a wink and a smile when he saw me and say, “How is “Knee Braska”? He will be truly missed

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