Taylor was a benefit to community

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Gene Taylor. Dr. Taylor was not only a tireless and excellent orthopedic surgeon, but was a real benefit to the community through the school board and his many other services to Natchez.

Dr. Taylor, for many years, provided free physicals for athletes at Natchez High School and at Alcorn State University.

I got to know Gene early in his Natchez career, through having a son as a patient, and through our common interest in athletics.

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Dr. Taylor had an outstanding athletic and academic career at Ferriday High School, playing football on the great Ferriday teams of the 1950s with such future LSU greats as Max Fuglar and Donnie Daye.

To the best of my knowledge, Gene was recruited to play football at LSU but declined in order to focus on his medical ambitions.

As they say, he “hung up his cleats” after high school.

Early in his Natchez medical practice, Gene treated my oldest son, Ward, for a broken arm (the arm was broken in what was, at that time, the longest running yard in a football game in the state.)

A few years later, my other son, Tom, broke his forearm during a junior high school football game. Later, when the arm failed to heal properly, Dr. Taylor had to rebreak the bone and reset it.

You can imagine a mother’s reaction to the pop when the arm was rebroken.

The arm subsequently healed with no further problem.

My sincere condolences to Gene’s wife, Bobbie, and sons Trey and Marty, and his daughter Christy.

Natchez has lost a good citizen, and his family has lost a great member.

Readers with interest in college basketball might be interested to know that the NCAA’s proposed rule changes for the college game are available on the internet.

The NCAA weekly publishes an on-line newsletter, and last week it included a verbal discussion of those proposed changes.

I am not sophisticated enough on my computer to get sound, so I will list the NCAA’s web site. The newsletter is free.

I don’t think I receive it because of my sports writing, as I am not a member of any organization. I would join the Mississippi Sportswriters’ Association, but I have been unable to find an address for that group.

Mississippi State hired a new baseball coach last week to replace the retiring Ron Polk. Though the coach hired, John Cohen from the University of Kentucky, played for Polk at State, he was definitely not Polk’s choice as his replacement.

Polk favored Tommy Raffo, who ironically had been Cohen’s teammate at State.

Despite Polk’s feelings, Cohen seems to be a very popular choice among Mississippi State fans.

At the introduction ceremonies in both Starkville and Jackson, Cohen and incoming Athletic Director Greg Byrne were warmly greeted.

Byrne, named to replace the retiring Larry Templeton as State’s Athletic Director, was a young intern at Arizona State when I officiated the Fiesta Bowl in 1987.

Byrne was assigned to meet each official as we flew into Phoenix, so I met him then. That was for only a few minutes and long ago, so to say I know Greg Byrne would be a stretch.

In spite of the fact that he defeated my brother in the recent Natchez Mayor’s race, I congratulate Jake Middleton on his victory.

I served with Jake’s father, later his mother, and his brother Tom on the Board, and am proud of that fact.

Good luck.

The NCAA web site is newsDirect@ ncaa.org.

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