Lawrence Lately

Remembering John ‘J.T.’ Taylor


When my peers and I heard that John T. Taylor, one of our security guards, died on Oct. 11, the school fell unusually silent. It was a surreal moment; his death shook our school. Flowers were left at the chair he usually guarded Lawrence High School from. Sports games were dedicated to him. Posters were made and filled with sentiments and signatures.

At times, when life is busy, it is easy to forget about the simple things. In the midst of school and work, we take advantage of the people who fill our lives with laughter and happiness. Genuine and charismatic men like Mr. Taylor are hard to find. Mr. Taylor, who was lovingly called J.T., wasn’t just a staff member at our school; he was our guardian, our mentor, and our friend.

Although I have only exchanged smiles and greetings with him, through others, I learned what a truly amazing individual he was. Michelle Canales calls him “the shoulder you wanted to lean on when you needed one.” Israel Cruz remembers one memorable quote from him: “‘Real men aren’t ashamed to cry. The punks are the ones afraid of being judged.’ I’ll never forget that.”

While most of the incoming freshmen in the class of 2013 were familiar with each other, Arianna Don was new to Lawrence. On her very first day, she took her lunch outside to the hall. She sat down. Much to her surprise, J.T. sat down next to her, his lunch in hand. Together, they ate and talked. She calls him her “first friend.” Since that day, Arianna has grown but his words stay with her. “One thing he always said to me when I was feeling upset was, ‘Keep your head up. Don’t let anyone make your smile leave that face ‘cause there’s nobody that’s worth it.’”

The announcement of Mr. Taylor’s death was shocking, completely unexpected. At one moment, we were all blissfully unaware, and then all of a sudden, we were painfully aware. Life is precious. Life is precious because we have wonderful people, like Mr. Taylor, in our lives. His death was another reminder of the brevity of life and how we should never take the kind-hearted and special people in our lives for granted.