Nothing was more important to Janie Taylor than her family, and she stood as the matriarch, though she wouldn’t call herself that. She was struck by Cupid’s arrow, smitten with Odell Taylor for most of her life. It was the kind of love that Janie wouldn’t let the U.S. military get in the way of, and she didn’t. It also wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows – there were tough times for sure – but Odell was her rock and helped her overcome extraordinary hardship. In her final days, she clutched a framed photo of Odell, listening to her favorite song, Top of the World by the Carpenters.
Born during the Great Depression to parents Gladys and Clyde Bratton, on Aug. 30, 1931, in rural Greenville, Missouri, Janie moved around a lot, forced to make do with little means. She fondly remembered her formative years in Metropolis, Illinois. At the age of 7, she lost her father Clyde, 41, whom she adored, to Tuberculosis.
Janie continued to move around in her teenage years, staying with family in Joplin, Missouri; St. Louis; and Grayson County in North Texas. She was an honors student and received her diploma from Sherman High School on May 24, 1951.
During a high school field trip, Janie learned that her dear mother Gladys had been in a car accident; she was paralyzed. Janie sat dutifully by her mother’s side and in later years would care for and visit her when she could. Gladys passed away on May 11, 1964, in Galveston, Texas, when Janie was 32.
Janie met the love of her life in Texas. Odell’s brother Herbert and Janie’s brother Robert planned to go to the drive-in theater, and they talked over the phone to iron out the details, asking their siblings if they wanted to go. Odell was heard in the background saying, “I can speak for myself.” He spoke to Janie with confidence, and she was intrigued.
On their first date at the movies, Odell asked Janie if she wanted to hold his hand. She retorted, “You should want to hold my hand!”
Following graduation, Janie joined the Women’s Army Corps and upon completion of basic training on Nov. 1, 1951, went AWOL for love. She unofficially left the Army to officially marry her beau Odell in Grayson County, Texas, on Nov. 19, 1951. She was 20, and he was 19. They went to sunny California and, while staying with family in Citrus Heights, got a rude awakening to their marital afterglow – a visit from the Military Police to bring Janie back to the Army.
Odell, facing conscription during the Korean War, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the summer of 1952 and worked to prepare for their new life together in California. They wrote letters to each other regularly. Janie was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army later that year, on Oct. 13, 1952, and they visited each other when possible.
Son Robert (Bob) was born Sept. 30, 1953, in Grayson County, Texas. Janie and Bob moved around Northern California to be with Odell. Daughter Robin, born April 1, 1955, and daughter Teresa, born Nov. 24, 1957, arrived while the family lived in Roseville, California.
The Taylors moved into their forever home in Fair Oaks, California, in 1959, bringing a sense of stability Janie had long sought and cherished. The Taylor family grew to include 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren while Janie was alive. She passed on June 7, 2022, at the age of 90, peacefully and surrounded by family.
Janie was preceded in death by her beloved Odell on July 6, 2002.
Janie loved going to the movies with family throughout her life and was always drawn to a good Hollywood story. She was an avid reader and, in later years, published poems and short stories.
She also found immense joy in sightseeing trips and flying and driving across the country. The main throughline was being with family.
Games were a staple at her house, from Rook and checkers to jacks and marbles. Neighbors and family friends would come over to play baseball or go for a swim, though she wasn’t a fan of being in the water since surviving an Ohio River flood in her childhood.
One night, she even toilet-papered a house with two of her grandsons – because, as she put it, she wanted to make sure they were safe. She was optimistic about the future of her family, telling anyone who would listen that they could accomplish whatever they set out to do. She also treasured the time she got to spend with them in the present.
Janie is survived by her children, Bob Taylor, Robin Tews and Teresa Burton, and 24 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Family and friends are invited to attend a funeral service at Price Funeral Chapel in Citrus Heights on Monday, June 20, at 10 a.m. Her final resting place will be at the Fair Oaks Cemetery, where she will be joined by her beloved Odell.