Rotary Member Leaving a Legacy and More with 50 Years of Perfect Attendance

Kingsport, TN -- George “Wirt” Taylor is making history. He received the first-ever award for fifty years of perfect attendance from the Rotary Club of Kingsport. Rotary’s District Governor Dick Ray made his official visit today to recognize this monumental achievement for Taylor. He also saw it as an opportunity to share Taylor’s story and inspire Rotarians worldwide.

Through the years, Taylor has served as the club’s sergeant-at-arms, setting up the room before club meetings and then putting everything away afterward.

Taylor’s plan, at age 74, is to keep the streak alive. It is already a feat to have fifty years of perfect attendance, and in Taylor’s case, he’s never missed a meeting! He joined July 1, 1967 and has been living Rotary’s motto of “service above self” ever since.

Taylor was proposed for membership by Allen Dryden, Sr., the man who opened Kingsport’s first architectural firm in 1920. Taylor took the Hardware classifi¬cation for the club, replacing S. F. Dobyns, another charter member who along with Taylor’s father had purchased both Kingsport Hardware and the hardware department of J. Fred Johnson’s store to create Dobyns-Taylor.

“They were very restrictive on who they had at that time,” Taylor remembers. “If you worked at a bank, you had to be the bank president. Eastman was allowed only seven people. Toy Reid (Eastman president) was in Rotary.

For instance, he says, those founding fathers of Kingsport impressed upon him the importance of duty and respon¬sibility. “In the first 25-30 years of Rotary, we had over 90 percent attendance. If you missed a meeting, they would call you that day or the day after and take you – and it was not an option – they would just pick you up and take you to make up your meeting at Johnson City or Gate City or wherever.”

Taylor began having vision problems in his early 30s and is legally blind with only limited peripheral vision. He still often walks from his home to various downtown properties for work, and gladly does small tasks like picking up litter along the way, or bringing fresh coffee to his staff in the morning. He also walks several miles to attend Dobyns-Bennett home football games.

Even with his vision problem, his service only grew for his community. In addition to Rotary, Taylor helped found the board of directors for the Downtown Kingsport Association and has volunteered on a regular basis to deliver Meals on Wheels. Taylor has also been an avid supporter of Dobyns-Bennett High School football for decades, receiving recognition from the D-B Quarterback Club.

A lifetime member of First Broad Street United Methodist Church, he has also served on the Kingsport Citizens Advisory Committee, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, board of directors at Holston Valley Medical Center and the United Way of Greater Kingsport board of directors, and he helped found the regional Junior Achievement chapter, located in Kingsport.

Taylor’s family founded Dobyns-Taylor Hardware in Kingsport in 1919, and he has been involved in the business for more than 50 years. He has a long history of serving others while never seeking recognition for himself.

The Rotary Club of Kingsport is grateful for Taylor’s dedication to service and the character that shines through each week at the club meeting. He was recently featured in the official centennial publication of the city of Kingsport, published by The Business Journal for his years of service.