By Samantha Lambert
Longtime Destin resident Lloyd Taylor was born at Eglin Air Force Base in 1945. He and his twin brother Tommy were thought to be the first documented twins born there. Lloyd and his brother were brought home to Calhoun Drive in Destin by his parents Clement James Garfield Taylor and Willie Mae Marler Taylor. There, they met their two older brothers and the rest of their extended family.
The Taylor family history goes back to the early 1900’s when Taylor’s grandfather Clement E. Taylor left England and arrived by steamboat at Santa Rosa Beach. He held many teaching degrees. Billy Marler, who would later become Taylor’s grandfather as well, hired Grandfather Taylor to teach his children. Grandfather Taylor then helped open the Episcopal Church in Destin. His son and Lloyd’s father, Clement James Garfield Taylor, was born in England and was around three years old when he arrived in Destin.
Taylor’s grandparents on his mother’s side were W.T. Marler and Camella Kathryn Brooks Marler. They had 10 children, one of whom was Willie Mae Marler, Lloyd’s mother. “Grandfather Marler wanted a boy so he named her Willie Mae,” says Taylor.
Grandfather Marler was a lighthouse keeper and built boats. He also opened the first school in Destin in his home. Church services were also held there—a minister would come by boat to perform the service. “Grandfather Marler kept a casket upstairs in his home, as he was the unofficial undertaker,” says Taylor. “He never charged for this service as he often said that you couldn’t charge a person in that condition. He had a great sense of humor.”
Eventually Grandfather Marler set up a Methodist church, which later burned down and was replaced by a Presbyterian church. W.C. Pryor wrote a story about W.T. Marler called “The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met” in the December 1955 edition of Reader’s Digest.
Taylor’s parents, Clement James and Willie Mae, were married in 1931 and raised their family in Destin. His dad was a civil service worker until 1960. “Growing up in early Destin was like living in paradise,” says Taylor. “We camped, fished and played baseball. During warm weather, we swam, boated and water-skied on a little ski boat my father gave us. We were always fighting and playing around, but we developed lifelong best friends like the Parrishes, the Brunsons, and our cousins. We worked on the fishing boats. Plus, there was a lot of influence on our lives from our neighbors. Everyone was family.”
Taylor attended elementary school in a three-room building on Calhoun Drive in the spot that is now home to Clement E. Taylor Park. “We played a lot of baseball back then and had games against Westwood Elementary, which is now Edwins Elementary in Fort Walton Beach,” he says. Taylor attended Pryor Junior High the first year it was open and continued his education at Choctawhatchee High School for grades 10 through 12. Taylor graduated from Choctaw in 1963.
“My brother and I sometimes took the boat to get to Choctaw, which was at the Meigs Middle School location in Shalimar then.”
Taylor started at Troy State Teachers College in Alabama at the age of 17. He earned a teaching degree in Social Studies, followed by a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision. He started teaching at Kenwood Elementary in 1968 as a physical education instructor. In 1969, he moved to Pryor Junior High where he taught Social Studies for 15 years.
“As my 7th grade geography teacher at Pryor Junior High, Mr. Taylor inspired me to want to become a teacher in Okaloosa County. I later became a social studies teacher in the school system. My dad Charles Gregory—who was an assistant principal at Pryor then—also enjoyed working with Lloyd,” says former Destin resident Lori Gregory Green.
From Pryor, Taylor went to the Okaloosa County Schools District Office where he worked in Student Services for 12 years. He also served on the Destin Community Board before Destin was incorporated as a city. After Destin was incorporated in 1985, he was elected to the first city council and reelected to the second council. “We passed regulations on parking and growth management to try and restrict it,” says Taylor. “Those regulations were later overturned.”
In 1996, Taylor was elected to the Okaloosa County School Board and served two terms. He retired in 2004 but went back to work in Student Services for the school system in 2006.
Taylor married the former Sandra Girard 42 years ago. He has two children—son James Richard and daughter Camella. His parents were married 50-plus years before his father passed away in 1986. His mother Willie Mae helped found the Destin Library in 1940 and chaired the Friends of Destin Library Board. The Children’s Room at the Destin Library is named after Willie Mae. She passed away in 1999.
“It was a different time and era back in the early days of Destin,” Taylor notes. “We have had lifelong relationships with friends we grew up with and wonderful memories. It is difficult in today’s society to have those types of relationships. We have also had some wonderful people move into Destin. My concerns now are growth management and maintaining a good quality of life. I would also like to see more jobs for young people to keep them here.
“As for me, I wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world.”
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