Wilson -- Funeral Services for Mr. Erbie Jackson Taylor, 91, of Wilson are scheduled for 2:00 PM Tuesday, October 10, 2017, at Alexander Funeral Home Chapel in Wilson with Bro. Eric Sawyer, Bro. Jimmy Morris, Bro. Billy Holder and Zane Gray officiating. Interment will be at Hewitt Cemetery with military honors provided by the Chickasaw Honors Team and Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant.
Erbie was born Feb. 27, 1926 southeast of Wilson on the old Jones place at Ghost Holler to the late Mr. Edgar Jackson Taylor and Mrs. Lula Margaret (Money) Taylor. He peacefully departed this life and went home with Jesus on Thursday, October 5, 2017, at the Ardmore Veterans Center.
Erbie was one of 13 children, two dying in infancy. As Erbie put it, “Eleven of us stayed around quite a while.”
While living at the Jones place, Erbie remembered falling asleep in a wagon to the sound of the loud preaching, praying and singing coming from a country church a half-mile from their home.
In the fall of 1928 the family moved to Charley, Texas, and little Erbie rode the cotton sacks while the older kids and parents picked cotton. By 1929, at the start of the Great Depression, his dad, Papa Taylor, was farming on halves around Memphis and Nocona, Texas. They were poor but survived by catching catfish, perch and turtles in creeks, milking their cow, collecting eggs, making butter. His mama, by necessity, was very resourceful. As Erbie said later, “We had a thing back then called a ‘will to survive.’”
The family moved to Gainesville, Texas, during the height of the Great Depression in 1934 and then back to south of Wilson in 1935. In addition to Prairie Point and Spring Creek in Texas, Erbie attended Blackjack and Post Oak schools south of Wilson, finishing eighth grade in 1942.
That same year, at age 16, “with a five-dollar bill, a small bag with a few clothes in it and a decision to head west,” Erbie set out on his own, hitchhiking to West Texas and finding a job working on the Coldwater Ranch for about two years, an experience that stayed with him his entire life.
“Young and full of patriotism,” Erbie registered for the draft on his birthday in 1944, during WWII. He asked to be enlisted as soon as possible and was in the Army within days. He was inducted at Fort Sill on March 22, 1944. Set back by an ankle injury and an appendectomy, he lost weeks of training time, but he eventually completed basic training in three different training units. He was then sent to the 10th Mountain Division at Camp Swift, Texas, where he trained to be a rifleman and sharpshooter. When the 10th Mountain Division was deployed overseas, Erbie’s physical setbacks during training prevented his deployment overseas. He was then shipped to an infantry replacement training center at North Little Rock, Arkansas, and then to Camp Chaffey, Arkansas, where, on December 15, 1944, he received his discharge papers.
Erbie married Dorothy Lee Thomas on November 7, 1949, in Gainesville, Texas. The couple would have five children together. Dorothy preceded him in death on May 31, 2016.
After living in several places around North Texas and in Oklahoma, Erbie and his family eventually settled back in Wilson, moving to Hewitt in 1960 into a home Erbie built and lived in for nearly 60 years.
Erbie was very versatile when it came to work. He was a skilled carpenter, building and moving houses and working in various construction jobs. For many years, he drove big rigs, working for Big Chief Roofing, Bill Hodges Trucking and Joe Brown, hauling oilfield equipment, moving rigs, hauling in wrecked and disabled trucks, and other trucking-related activities. Erbie received several safe driving awards and, like everything he put his mind to, he was a very skilled, dependable trucker. He also operated his own hot shot service for a time. Erbie retired from trucking at the age of 75 in 2001.
After retirement, Erbie became an author, writing a memoir titled I Was a Coldwater Cowboy, a collection of stories about what he considered a life-changing experience working as a cowboy on the Coldwater Ranch. “It had a good effect on me then, and it continues to have a good effect on me today,” he would often say.
Erbie enjoyed talking to people and offering his modestly priced book for sale to everyone he met—not to make money but simply to share his treasured stories, bring smiles to people’s faces and remind them of a simpler time. He treasured his memories of living in the bunkhouse and working with the old-time cowboys on the Coldwater Ranch, some of them having cowboyed since the turn of the 19th century. In his later years, he often referred to himself as “the last of the Coldwater cowboys.”
According to Will Rogers, "The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside of a horse," and Erbie firmly believed this. He loved horses and enjoyed breaking, working and riding them, owning several throughout the years.
Of Erbie’s passions, none was greater than his faith in, and love for, Jesus and the Word of God. As a young man, he was a street preacher, standing on corners, handing out tracts he had written, and playing guitar and singing gospel songs. Later, he preached wherever he could, helping build up churches throughout Southern Oklahoma. He loved to attend tent revivals. He bought his own tent in the 80s and held revivals in the area.
Erbie was a talented singer and guitarist. His repertoire included songs ranging from old-time gospel to cowboy ballads.
Erbie could easily quote scripture from memory, and often did. To the very end, he would sometimes preach from his hospital bed, delivering his wisdom word-for-word from the King James version of the Holy Bible. Afterward, he would sometimes smile and say, “That’s what the Bible says. I didn’t write it.”
Erbie was very active until only a few months before his passing, driving, taking long road trips, eating out, visiting the Wilson Nursing Home residents, stopping by the funeral home for coffee and conversation with Zane and staff, sharing stories, good-natured jokes, and often his opinions, with everyone. Having touched lives and hearts everywhere he went with his unfailing faith, humor, courage and optimism, Erbie Taylor will be missed by many in his hometown and beyond.
He was preceded by an infant brother and sister, sisters: Edith Kilpatrick, Thelma Uselton, Artie Scudder, Una Bates,Twin brothers James Harlon who was killed in Korea in 1950 and Thomas Garlon, and brothers Aaron and Enoch; granddaughter, Kerri Dawn Taylor and also preceded in death by Justin Monschke during his service in Iraq in 2007.
Survivors include a Sister, Veletta Alderman and husband Ray, Children: Janet Asbury of Wilson, Jackie Taylor and wife Brenda of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Roger Taylor and wife Laurie of Wilson, Ronald Taylor and wife Melinda of Wilson, and Gary Taylor and wife Pennye of Gainesville, Texas; 11 grandchildren, Christopher Taylor, Michelle Pham, Joshua Taylor, Lori Manthe, Lindsey Bryant, Daniel Taylor, Mark Asbury, Marisa Asbury, Garin Taylor, Whitney Taylor, and Caitlyn Taylor; 11 great grandchildren, Kai Davis, Holly Moore, Kristian, Ashton, Sage, and Arabella Pham, Ava Bryant, Brayden Bryant, Sebastian Harrison, and Nathan, Cheyenne, and Annistyn Manthe, and Seina Claire Taylor; three great-great grandchildren, Elly and Dovey Moore and Hutch Moore; numerous special nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
Casket Bearers will be Mark Asbury, Carl Bishop, Tim Barnes, Chris Bryant, Daniel Taylor and Joshua Taylor.
Honorary Bearers will be Christopher Taylor, Brayden Bryant, Jason Manthe, Tung Pham and Kai Davis.
Family visitation will be held from 6 to 8 pm Monday evening at Alexander Funeral Home of Wilson.
Condolences may be shared online at www.alexanderfuneralhome.org