Grady Taylor, 83
SIERRA VISTA—Lieutenant Colonel Grady E. Taylor (Retired) was born on March 26, 1936 to Rena Sims Taylor and Edward Taylor in Batesville, Arkansas. At an early age Grady’s intellectual giftedness was displayed academically and athletically. When he was in seventh grade, Mrs. Parker, a local judge’s wife, awarded him and other bright students a gold coin for their outstanding scholastic achievement. She told Grady, “I believe you will do great things”. Mrs. Parker’s words were the first of many inspirations in Grady’s life. He graduated from high school as valedictorian. During high school Grady had no match on the basketball court. His love for playing basketball continued as he chronologically matured. He loved to joke about giving his friends a “Nigerian Nightmare” (your lips will get to the hospital before the ambulance does). Although they admired his fitness and endurance, they were afraid of being elbowed and could not stop his 3 point shot.
After graduating from high school, Grady joined his mother in Des Moines, Iowa. He worked at the Hyperion Country Club until he was hired at the US Post Office. Grady met Shirlene Bell and found out that they had many things in common, especially dancing. Grady and Shirlene loved to dance. Their smooth skills were the envy of many at the Wilkie House, a local community center. They married in 1959 and had two girls, Michelle (Shelly) and Wendy Anne. Neither did Grady nor Shirlene know that their lives were about to be changed significantly.
Grady met the Honorable Judge Luther T. Glanton, a local prominent African American Judge who saw leadership potential in Grady. He encouraged Grady to join the Iowa National Guard. Grady was inspired by Judge Glanton and joined the Guard where he quickly learned how to navigate the unchartered waters of covert racism. He displayed endurance and successfully completed officer’s training school. Grady’s only fond memory of the Iowa National Guard was his life-long friendship with Attorney Lyle Simpson who witnessed the injustices directed toward Grady.
Grady was delayed a leadership role in the Guard until he received a call from the United States Army. He was requested as a Captain to go to Vietnam and accepted a prestigious assignment as staff writer for Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. Grady’s journey with the US Army landed him assignments in the United States, Europe, Central America and Asia. He held many leadership positions including Company Commander and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Deputy Chief of Staff in West Berlin and Brussels. Grady received a Bronze Medal and many other awards. Shirlene, who Grady referred to as the cream of the crop, and the girls accompanied Grady on many of his assignments. Wherever Grady was stationed, he exhibited a high standard of excellence and encouraged his staff to strive toward reaching their maximum potential.
One of Grady’s major achievements was writing the first Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) billion-dollar assessment (grant) for Fort Huachuca. He competed against five other bases for the grant and won. Grady was selected by Henry Kissinger to begin the EPG Center at Ft. Huachuca. For over forty years, the EPG grant has provided employment for over 660 employees and has infused millions of dollars annually into the Sierra Vista/Ft. Huachuca economies.
Grady endured many challenges but saw them as opportunities to grow. Major challenges included enduring racism, two tours in Vietnam resulting in post traumatic stress and the death of his beloved wife Shirlene of 37 years.
Grady was a strong proponent of education and loved learning. Although he received five degrees from various institutions (AA, BS, MA, MS and MBA), his love for the University of Arizona never waned. Grady was a member of the University of Arizona esteemed Alumni Association.
To whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). During his retirement years, Grady was active in the Sierra Vista community. For 18 years he served as a judge and recruiter for the Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative Science Fair. He also was a member of the NAACP, Computer Users Group, Southwestern Arizona Buffalo Soldiers and supported the Fort Huachuca Black Officers Restorative Project.
Lieutenant Colonel Grady E. Taylor went from labor to reward on December 8, 2019 at 3:20 a.m. at the Arizona State Veterans Soldiers Home in Tucson, Arizona. He was preceded in death by his parents, Rena and Edward Taylor; brother; aunt, Willie Davidson; cousin, Ruth McCoy and wife, Shirlene Bell Taylor.
Grady leaves to cherish his memory, children, Michelle Taylor Frazier (Steven) of Des Moines, Iowa and Wendy Anne Lowe of Covington, Georgia; grandchildren, Broderick Frazier (Nicole) of Des Moines, Iowa; Lieutenant Benjamin E. Frazier, West Liberty, Iowa; Alexander Lowe, Jeffrey Lowe and Dominique Lowe of Covington, Georgia; cousin, Helen McCoy Graham and family, East Lansing, Michigan; and sister-in-law, Sandra Bell, Ankeny, Iowa and numerous friends.
A Funeral will be held on December 12, 2019. Wake 9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. with the funeral Funeral 11:00 a.m. at Hatfields Funeral Home, 830 AZ-92, Sierra Vista, Arizona 85635.
Military Burial on December 13, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1300 S Buffalo Soldier Trail Sierra Vista, Arizona 85635.