LIMA — On April 14, 1970, the local manager of the Sioux Honey processing plant, which during the 1950s processed 8 million pounds of honey a year, announced the Sioux City, Iowa, company would be closing its Lima plant after nearly 30 years at 435 N. Elizabeth St.
Although the plant, and the jobs it provided, departed, it left Lima with one important human resource — Dollie Taylor. Taylor had arrived in Lima in 1941 with her husband, Raymond, a honey grader and processor who, according to The Lima News, was the oldest employee in the Lima plant.
In January 1996, more than five decades after her arrival in Lima, Taylor was named Lima La Sertoma Club’s Woman of the Year for her work as president of the Riverside North Neighborhood Association, a group she had helped found four years earlier.
The Lima News, in an article on Jan. 19, 1996, ticked off her accomplishments with the group. “Through her efforts,” the News reported, “the neighborhood group was able to provide equipment for the Lima Police Department’s community outpost in Riverside North.” She also had coordinated neighborhood cleanups, a beautification project in Faurot Park and activities for Make a Difference day, the News wrote.
In many ways, Taylor had been making a difference in Lima almost since she first set foot in town, as the News pointed out. “In addition to her work with the neighborhood association, Taylor is active in Second Baptist Church, where she is president of the Missionary Society, superintendent of the Children’s Division of Sunday school, choir director and president of Ladies Aid Society.”
There was more, much more. “She also was a teacher, parent-volunteer and special needs coordinator with the Lima-Allen County Head Start program from 1969 to 1987; a teacher for tiny tots and senior citizens adviser for Bradfield Community Center; served on the boards of YWCA and Mizpah; was first black president of Church Women United; was a member of Church People for Change and racial studies circles; and served as a moderator for focus groups on the community health assessment, Healthy People 2000.”
Dorothy “Dollie” Houston was born in 1923 in South Dakota to George and Isabelle Houston. On Nov. 1, 1941, in Sandusky, she married Raymond J. Taylor, an amateur photographer who had attended Lincoln (Nebraska) State College. He died in April 1989 at 76 years of age. In 1942, Taylor gave birth to a daughter, Joan.
In the 1940s, Taylor’s name often appeared in a column titled News in Colored Circles in the News, often as a member of the Ladies Aid group at Second Baptist Church. Her circle soon was expanding.
Early on she became involved with Bradfield Community Center and, showing the breadth of her interests, the Forsythia Garden Club. At a club meeting on Jan. 28, 1957, she presented a tutorial on growing shrubs.
In the 1960s, Taylor hit her stride, joining Church People for Change and Reconciliation, Church Women United and the Lima Head Start program, while continuing her work with Bradfield, where she served as a teacher, and other civic groups.
In January 1969, Taylor was installed as president of Church Women United. During her tenure, the Mizpah Community Center — which was started by a group of church women as a Sunday school known as Mizpah Mission at the corner of Central Avenue and Ninth Street — dedicated a new multi-purpose room. Church Women United sponsors the center, which eventually became the Cheryl Allen South Side Center.
“We had a vision that has been realized,” Taylor told the News on Feb. 17, 1969. “And a good feeling it is …”
While continuing her many civic activities, including Head Start, Taylor earned an associate’s degree in child development from Lima Technical College in June 1977.
Taylor also was as conscious of what she put on head as what she put in it, as the News explained on March 23, 2003. “When Dollie Taylor strolls into church on Sunday mornings, most everyone takes a moment to peek at the ‘hat lady,’ curious to see what she has chosen to complete that week’s outfit.” Taylor, the story continued, “plans to be clad in pink for services at Second Baptist Church this morning, complete with hat and gloves. But today for Easter, she will wear one of her better, dressier outfits to celebrate the season.”
“You feel different when you’re dressed up, completely dressed up,” Taylor said. “It speaks for the season, really.”
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.