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Prayers for pupils



Published: Thu, May 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

WARREN -- Children waiting for their school bus on a Scott Avenue street corner are not surprised when a hideously green station wagon arrives first.

Out pops a slightly stooped old man in a plaid shirt, a floral tie and a cap reading "Coach." He opens his arms wide; a few girls step forward into his embrace.

"Heavenly father, I thank you for these young people, and pray you will help them learn."

A few more mumbled lines, and William B. Taylor has scurried back to the car and is halfway to the next bus stop.

"I said to myself, they can't have prayer when they get to school, why not have it before they start," Taylor said.

His route

Every school day between 6:30 and 8:07 a.m., Taylor hits 45 bus stops. He estimates he prays with 150 children each morning and has for 18 years. Taylor's daily route from bus stop to bus stop is timed to the minute.

"I'm 84 years old, and I really just get a big kick when the children come running up to the corner to have prayer," he said over breakfast at Mike and Dar's Diner, on the schedule for 7 a.m. "I haven't missed a day on account of a cold or the flu in 18 years."

Taylor does not cut a menacing picture. The green station wagon is emblazoned with the name of his business, William Taylor Welding, and phone number. He says he points toward it when grade-school pupils accuse him of being a stranger.

"He's a really good guy," said Penny Vaughn, a Plymouth Place mother. "I have three kids, and they all seem to enjoy having him around."

Over the 18 years, Taylor said he's been checked out nine times by Warren police, once by juvenile court and once by the city school board.

"They said keep it so I don't get too close to the school building," he said.

Personal history

Taylor, who ran unsuccessfully for Trumbull County commissioner in 1990, has had a varied career. He ran a company with a half-dozen employees, Ohio Spring and Welding Co., for 40 years, starting at 18.

Next, he was a traveling salesman for a Cleveland manufacturer of welding rod, but that job was too stressful. Taylor said he had a breakdown after seven years.

Now, he welds broken car frames at a shop given to him by a friend and spreads God's word as he sees it.

He makes the message stronger for children who have been participating for a while.

"After about a month, I move on to what I call the No. 2 prayer," Taylor said. "My dear heavenly father, I ask you right now to come into my heart and forgive my sins."

siff@vindy.com




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