Golf tournament renamed in memory of Wayne Taylor

Thursday, May 26, 2005
Mrs. Wayne Taylor (left) and Rachel Gifford, dean for Development of College Relations, discuss plans for the Wayne Taylor Memorial Golf Tournament scheduled for June 7.

Arkansas Northeastern College's Foundation is recognizing the memory of longtime Leachville resident, Wayne Taylor, who passed away last August, by renaming its annual Big Lake Scholarship Golf Tournament in his honor.

The Wayne Taylor Golf Tournament will be held Tuesday, June 7, at the Big Lake Country Club in Manila. Registration will be from 8-8:30 a.m. and tee-off at 8:45 a.m. The cost is $90 per team. For more information or to sign-up, interested persons can call 838-2902.

Mr. Taylor, a longtime supporter of Arkansas Northeastern College, (ANC) served on the ANC Foundation Board of Governors, and was instrumental in the success of the scholarship tournament that is now in its seventh year.

The tournament has raised over $20,000 in six years. The proceeds from the tournament go to students from the Buffalo Island and Bootheel of Missouri area.

Rachel Gifford, Dean for Development of College Relations, said it is very appropriate to rename the tournament in Mr. Taylor's memory.

"When I first started at the college a golf tournament was being held in Blytheville," Gifford said. "I told Mr. Taylor who was serving as Chairman of the Board of Foundation, that I thought it would be nice to have one at Big Lake Country Club in Manila and he said he thought it was a great idea.

"We contacted the local banks and they agreed to become our partners in the tournament. We had a meeting to work out the details. At the second meeting, Mr. Taylor walked in and had collected donations and got the ball rolling. We were hoping to break even at that first tournament and we netted $4,000. That first year may have been a flop without him," Gifford said.

Taylor played an active role in the tournament each year.

"He donated for a tee box, served as Hole 4 watcher to see if anyone got a hole in one and greeted all of the participants," Gifford said. "The board decided at the last meeting to rename the tournament in his memory and it is very fitting," Gifford said.

The Leachville Chapter AC PEO will be serving as guest hostesses for this year's tournament and serve lunch. This group has been among the tee box sponsors since the tournament began.

Major sponsors of the tournament include Century Tel, Home Oxygen care of Manila, First National Bank, Heritage Bank, Liberty Bank, Southern Bank of Commerce and SouthBank.

"We appreciate all of the businesses, individuals, participants, and organizations that take part in helping to make the tournament successful," Gifford said. "We also appreciate Big Lake Country Club for allowing us to have the tournament each year."

The tee box sponsor donations are: $50 (bronze sponsor); $75 (silver sponsor); and $100 (gold sponsor). Tax deductible tee-box sponsorships are available. For more information or to sponsor a tee-box, interested persons can call 838-2902.

Gifford said six or seven teams have already signed up for the tournament. Former ANC President Dr. John Sullins of Bella Vista, near Fayetteville, will be to play as well as the current president Dr. Robert Myers. "We appreciate all of the teams that have come year after year and welcome new teams," Gifford said.

Mr. Taylor was a strong supporter of the college and education in the area.

"He gave of his time and money," Gifford said. "We will miss him."

Taylor served as Leachville Postmaster for 35 years. After his retirement, he volunteered and served the community, county, and state. He was past president of the National Association of Federal Employees of Jonesboro. Served as Chairman of the Election Commission, had served on the Leachville school Board, was a World War II and Korean Veteran.

"He loved his Lord, he loved his church, he loved his family, and he loved the college," Mrs. Taylor said.

Taylor was a member of the Leachville Methodist Church for 70 years where he had served as Church Lay Leader, Chairman of the Board, treasurer, and a member of the choir.

He cared about the young and the old and everyone in between He not only volunteered and visited Monette Manor on a regular schedule, he was a volunteer reader to the kindergarten classes at BIC East Elementary. He was a member of the Leachville chamber of Commerce and served on the International Visitors Committee.

Mr. Taylor passed away on August 29, 2004. Even though his health was bad during last year's tournament, he spent the day doing what he loved, cheering on the teams and supporting the college.

"He would be so pleased with this honor," Mrs. Taylor said. "The tournament and the college meant a lot to him. He always wanted to know the students receiving the scholarship money from the tournament."

Wayne's two sons, Jon and Mike and his grandson, J.P., will be playing at the first Wayne Taylor Memorial Golf Tournament. J.P. will be coming in from Colorado.

His wife, Janet, will be helping the Chapter PEO members serve lunch.

"There will be a $5,000 prize for a hole in one on Hole 4," Gifford said. "We had a volunteer from the college to purchase an insurance policy to cover the prize money if a hole in one is made.

"The tournament has always been a fun tournament for a great cause," Gifford said. "That is the way Mr. Taylor would want it to be continued."

Gifford encourages students from the high schools in the Buffalo Island area or the Bootheel area to apply for the scholarships provided through the tournament.

"Anyone interested in applying for a scholarship can get a Foundation Form at the financial Aid office at ANC.

"Applicants must have applied for Federal Financial Aid," Gifford said. "We are there to help them file electronically. We encourage students to apply by April 15 but there is still time and some funding available."

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