Bakersfield native Dick Taylor retired in 2018 but it doesn’t look like he’s getting much rest.
Days before the interview, he and Cheryl Taylor, his wife of 43 years, wore aprons at the Guild House in downtown Bakersfield, fulfilling their commitment as volunteer waiters at the nonprofit restaurant, which collects funds for Henrietta Weill Memorial Child. Orientation clinic.
A day later, the 66-year-old US Marine veteran was on a 10-mile bike ride. – on the runway used by the F-16s and F-35s at Edwards Air Force Base in eastern Kern County.
âI get up at 4:50 am,â Taylor said of the morning hikes in the foothills he does with a friend three or four times a week.
Some might call him an outperformer.
He and Cheryl adopted Truxtun Avenue in 2012 as part of the Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Adopt-a-Street program.
He and his wife are licensed real estate agents; he sits on the Board of Directors of the Bakersfield National Cemetery Support Committee, the Board of Directors of the Historic Union Cemetery, and the boards of several local non-profit organizations.
Taylor hosted the US Marine Band at sold-out concerts in Bakersfield in 2009 and 2019. And between them, the couple volunteered as guardians on more than a dozen flights with Honor Flight Kern County.
Taylor also volunteers as a tour guide for the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, guiding guests on hikes and 4×4 tours of the 270,000-acre ranch.
Once a Marine, always a Marine, that’s what they say, and according to Cheryl Taylor, it’s true. The United States Marine Corps will always be part of her husband, she said, and vice versa.
“I always support him in whatever he has to do,” she said.
Former students of East Bakersfield High and Bakersfield College joined the Marines in the mid-1970s. One of his first jobs was to assist South Vietnamese refugees during “Operation Newcomers” in 1975. .
Later, he was assigned to the Marine Detachment aboard the aircraft carrier USS America. He would see much of the world from the deck of this ship and the ports he visited.
Maybe it was during his service in the Marines, or maybe it was something ingrained in him long before, but Taylor began to internalize one of the central tenets of his life: âDo the right thing, even when no one is watching, âhe mentioned.
Married in 1978 and honorably released in 1979, Taylor returned to Bakersfield to run the family business, Taylor Tire & Brake. He will eventually serve as president and CEO, as well as director of the California State Tire Dealers Association.
An off-road enthusiast, he has ridden Hare and Hound desert motorcycles, and has also served as a field representative for the California Off Road Vehicle Association.
He owned a few Harley-Davidsons at a time, but as the kids arrived, as a father, his priorities changed.
“I realized that the obstetricians’ bills were bigger,” he said.
Of course, he knew there were risks off-road. But Taylor was not averse to taking risks, he was averse to taking foolish or childish risks.
âI have done everything I can to do dangerous things in the safest way possible,â he said with a laugh.
After 27 years in the tire industry, the Taylors sold the business, inventory and the store’s reputation as a square dealer.
âI was descending from the abyss,â recalls Taylor. “It was time to do something new.”
Taylor had been involved in some political campaigns, and when he met Mike Maggard, then Bakersfield city councilor, he saw him as someone who knew how to bring people together on the other side to get things done.
Maggard was running for county supervisor, recalls Taylor. It was a lousy race, but Maggard won hands down in the primary.
âHe asked me if I could consider coming to work for him,â recalls Taylor.
“I said, ‘You mean to pay? “”
Yes, to pay. Beginning in 2006, Taylor continued for six years as a field representative for Maggard. He had gone from blue collar to white collar, from auto service to public service – and he was booming.
âI asked Dick to join my supervisory team because I knew he had a servant’s heart,â recalls Maggard. âHe quickly became known for putting the service ahead of himself, not only in the Third District but throughout the county. So much so that when the opening came to lead the Veterans Services Department, he was the unanimous choice of the entire board. “
In his new role, Taylor knew he had the opportunity to get things done, and he wasn’t about to get tangled up in the bureaucracy.
âPeople thought of me as a thug in county business,â Taylor said. “There was the County Method and the Dick Taylor Method, and as far as I was concerned it was legal, ethical and moral, I was not afraid to think outside the box.”
âOnce Dick was given the reins of the department,â said Maggard, âhis life of experience and service has positioned him to be a formidable leader and voice for the Veterans community, as our community has. never seen before. “
And as head of department, he had the opportunity to help his fellow veterans.
Taylor may have retired, but the labels can be misleading. If there’s a rocking chair on her back porch, it’s not much use.
The Taylors are on their way. A lot.
âA lot of times he drags me around kicking and screaming,â Cheryl Taylor said of her husband. But most of the time, she ends up enjoying it.
Dick loves puns – and some of them, he admits, are real moans. But husband and wife agree, the humor that runs through their relationship helps keep their marriage healthy.
âWe get wrinkles, we get gray hair,â Cheryl Taylor said. “But if we can’t laugh together and laugh at ourselves every now and then, then something is wrong.”
They work together. They play together. They even volunteer together.
But her husband’s ability to put food away without seeming to gain an ounce? This is something that can be a bit annoying.
âHe eats all the time,â Cheryl said with a laugh. “I call him horrible names.”
Journalist Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @semayerTBC.