This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.
Doug Taylor loved his jobs.
He loved consulting, and serving as a transportation engineer for the City of Asheville, and working for General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas, and directing the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.
Caldwell County Schools helped him get there.
Taylor attended Oak Hill School from first grade to fourth, Lower Creek from fifth to eighth, and Oak Hill High (which, a few years later, became Hibriten) from ninth through 12th.
He followed up with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from N.C. State.
Just as he liked his career, Taylor liked his teachers in Caldwell County.
He still remembers Mrs. Sawyer, who taught him English and French, and Dr. Clyde Austin, who taught him chemistry, biology and math.
He excelled in all those subjects at State, he said, because he had been taught well in high school.
To this day, he said he’d offer this advice to a student interested in engineering: “Find a good teacher like Mr. Austin.”
The learning Taylor soaked up at Oak Hill (along with the degrees he gathered up at State) helped him get to the job he liked most of all: working for the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.
He was working in Fort Worth when he answered an ad in the Hickory Daily Record for a job at COG. By the time he left the organization, he had moved up to executive director, a position he held for 38 years.
When he answered the ad, he was mostly excited to be back in western North Carolina.
“They don’t have seasons in Texas,” he said.
People don’t realize how much the work of a civil engineer matters to their everyday lives, Taylor said.
He’s spent his life overseeing roads and traffic-flow and stoplights, water and sewer and solid waste. It’s the work that keeps a town moving from day to day.
Taylor loved that work, so much that he passed up several opportunities to retire.
When he finally took leave of his position, in 2008, he was at first unsure of how to spend his time.
Now he has filled the extra hours with hobbies new and old, including guitar lessons, Spanish classes and golf.
And he has enjoyed the time with his family: his wife, Terry, and their two sons, one daughter and four granddaughters.
Most of Taylor’s family will join him Thursday at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center when he’s inducted into the Caldwell County Schools Hall of Honor.