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Admiring the Legacy Oren Taylor Left Bladen County

By: Charlotte Smith

Father’s Day weekend was the perfect time to remember not only one of the best fathers, but someone who continues to have a profound impact on Bladen County, his name, Oren Taylor. Dublin Motor Speedway held the “Oren Taylor Memorial Race” this weekend bringing in a huge crowd and as I enjoyed the night’s events, I realized just how great this man was, not only to work with, not only as a father, family member, inventor, and business man, but as a community member giving back so much and teaching others to do the same.

When I first came to Bladen County over 16 years ago, I was 19 and still had a lot to learn about life, and as God would see it, my path would cross with the Taylor family. I started working at Taylor Manufacturing, Inc., for Oren, his daughter, Denise T. Bridgers, and his brother, Ron Taylor. The lessons I learned from them have helped mold me into who I am today. Just to name a few of the lessons learned from them was how to be a better person, how to give back to my community and the Taylors treat you like family, even if you’re not, and that is how you should treat others as well.

Back then, Oren was still working. I remember him sitting in the breakroom eating lunch with numerous other employees making jokes and small talk while taking a break from the work of creating the Taylor Waterstove, Oren’s invention. I remember he would always ride his golf cart up to the office before he left to make sure his daughter, Denise, didn’t work too late, and if she did, someone would be there with her. Most of all, I remember his smile, his sense of humor and his genuine heart.

Time went on and Oren got sick, but that didn’t keep him from smiling and making others feel welcome and loved. The last time I saw him, I went to his house and he invited my family and me to go fishing in the pond behind his house, that pond is now part of Lu Mil Vineyard, another Taylor family business.

Then in May of 2007 I mourned loss of him along with so many others. I always think of him in January, because that was his birth month, and I always think of him around Father’s Day because of the role model he was to me, and the great father he was to my friends.

Then, this past Saturday night, Dublin Motor Speedway, (run by Richard Bailey) gave us an opportunity to remember just how great Oren Taylor was, and the impact his life has had on an immeasurable amount of people. To say the least, I was in awe as I looked around at the enormous amount of people, listened to the stories of how much Oren had impacted their lives, and realized Oren was still making a huge impression on Bladen County.

Richard told me he was adopted by Jimmy Taylor, Oren’s brother at the age of 6 and had been working with Oren on the race tracks since he could remember. Richard, his wife Shirley and their two sons work hard to bring crowds out to Dublin Motor Speedway every Saturday night in the summers. When asked why, Richard said, “I enjoy it, but I really do it for Oren and Denise. They have helped so many people in the community.”

The announcer of the races, Marty Webb, shared his memories of Oren Taylor that dated back to 1978. Marty said, “I really have enjoyed my time working with Oren and the Taylor family. Oren was the true Barnum and Bailey of Bladen County. He made a motor cross track, a go-cart track and then the speedway. He wanted for people to have a place to come and play.”

Then it came time for a presentation from Richard and Shirley to Oren’s daughters, Denise, Angie Mendell, and Beverly Parks, and Oren’s brother Ron Taylor, and his wife Vicky. Shirley who was on crutches with a swollen ankle hopped down on the track to present them all with a framed photo of Oren and a white rose. As the three ladies took their seats on top of the pace car, they invited me to take the laps with them. I humbly took my seat and had to try hard not to get emotional.

As we rode the track waving at the many fans with the racers behind us in their cars I looked up and there was Denise, Angie, and Beverly, laughing and acting like sisters do. I thought to myself, “Oren has to be looking down and smiling that smile and loving seeing this, his three girls, grown up into well respected pillars of the community themselves, having fun on the track he built.” I managed to keep my feelings at bay as I admired this family as I have so many times before, and remembered how blessed I was to know Oren and how blessed our community is from his life. 

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