Member Spotlight
To facilitate new members getting to know the congregation, and maybe even long-time members learning something new about each other, every couple of weeks or so we will feature one of our members with a spotlight article. We will begin with our members who have recently joined and continue by randomly choosing a member from our membership directory. Couples will have individual turns. Robin McKinley will contact you when your name is chosen, and arrange for an interview to gather the information for the spotlight. Stay tuned for the fun!

Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight
Mary Pearl Sutton
April 2018
Mary Pearl Sutton was born in Hutto.  Her grandparents migrated from Sweden, and her grandfather helped build the Methodist Church in Hutto. Mary Pearl was baptized in this church, which is also the very church that was moved recently to a new location in Hutto.  Her grandfather owned the property that now houses the Home Depot in Hutto.
Mary Pearl had seen hard times in her life.  Her mother divorced when she was twelve and they experienced some lean times.  She doesn’t dwell on those hard times but rather with her quick laugh and keen sense of humor, she looks at life more philosophically and focuses on the positive things in life.  She prefers to use her fantastic memory to remember many stories about Taylor and the many years she has lived here.  She also uses it to remember all the accomplishments of her daughter and her granddaughters and her great grandchildren, but more about them later.
When Mary Pearl was 12, she and her mother moved to Taylor and Mary Pearl began attending school here.  She went through the rest of her school years in Taylor.  Here’s a fun fact from her school years:  when she was a senior in high school, she took American History from T. H. Johnson who was then the football coach at Taylor High School.  The elementary school in Taylor is named after him.  She graduated from Taylor High School.
Mary Pearl started working immediately after high school since she had to pay for all her living expenses, including her dry cleaning.  She even paid her share for purchases her mother made for the house such as a new lamp.  She worked at a record shop for eight months, and then was recruited to work for Lone Star Gas as a bookkeeper.   The woman she replaced was leaving because she was expecting.  Mary Pearl and the other employees pitched in to give her a bassinet.  Later, the baby who slept in that bassinet became Mary Pearl’s son-in-law!  Mary Pearl laughs that at the time she never knew that in the future she would have grandchildren who would also sleep in that bassinet.
When she had first moved to Taylor, Mary Pearl began attending church at Taylor First United Methodist Church which was then located at 4th St. and Talbot.  She went all through her school years in Sunday School and when she decided to marry in 1946, of course, she chose the old church for her wedding. 
Although Mary Pearl had arranged for the ceremony months in advance, the pastor didn’t write the date onto the calendar, so he forgot about it and went out of town. Mary Pearl didn’t find out she was missing a preacher until the rehearsal dinner. Her groom called his mother who arranged for the pastor of Tenth Street United Methodist, Reverend Gill, to perform the ceremony.  He said he was more used to marrying people in front of a Model T Ford than in a church.
Needless to say, this left a negative impression on the newly married Suttons.  They transferred their membership to Tenth Street UMC and worshipped there for many years.  However, when their daughter Susan was about 12, she was in a Sunday School class of all boys and the boys teased her so relentlessly that the Suttons decided to return to First UMC.  By this time, First UMC had moved to its new location on Lake Street.  Susan played volleyball during her school years at First UMC.  Mary Pearl has been a member of First UMC ever since.  Her favorite hymn is How Great Thou Art, and her second favorite is Amazing Grace.
Mary Pearl has had many fun times in her life.  She fondly remembers a trip her family took in 1964. She and her husband drove to California with Susan, and Shelly, a friend of Susan’s.  Shelly’s family struggled to make ends meet, so this was a great treat for her as well as fun for Susan.  They went to the Disneyland and the Lion’s convention.  The girls had a marvelous time at the park and enjoyed a lot of freedom at the convention interacting with other kids.
In 1968, Mary Pearl and her best friend, Peggy, opened a dress shop on Main Street in Taylor selling both misses and juniors dresses, blouses, slacks and lingerie.  They operated the store in the location where the Nest is currently housed.  Mary Pearl’s mother had worked in a dress shop so they had some advice on their venture.  With Mary Pearl’s Susan and Peggy’s three children in school, the two entrepreneurs had a blast operating the shop.  They used innovative advertising techniques, such as using Peggy’s connection with the radio station to get promotions, and also having Susan wear their fashionable dresses and dance in the window of the store.  Susan loved the dancing and also working in the shop which led her to her present career of department store buyer. 
The shop allowed Mary Pearl to meet people and visit with them, which she loved.  As a good Swede, she had coffee ready to offer customers.  They went to Dallas to market to procure their inventory and had advice and help from their friend, Dot.  There, Mary Pearl put to use her good shopping talents, and her uncanny ability to put different outfits together.  Mary Pearl smiles, “Many times, people think I have on something new, but I’ve only put my clothes together in a new way.”
Mary Pearl was married for 48 years and then divorced.  She has one daughter, two granddaughters, and five great grandchildren – three girls and two boys.  It probably cannot be overstated how important family is to Mary Pearl and it is hard to get her to talk about anything else.  She is very proud of her daughter’s and her granddaughters’ accomplishments, as well as their husbands’.
Her daughter, Susan, while in high school, sang in a choral group called the Coryells.  They won first place three years in a row in the school talent competition.  The group also performed at many conventions and meetings. Mary Pearl proudly shows the group’s write up and picture that was printed in the power company’s newsletter.
Susan attended the University of Texas and got a degree in Fashion Merchandising.  She lives in Fort Worth and is a buyer for the Texas-based, international chain: Dillard’s Department Store. Susan and her husband have two daughters:  Reagan and Raeley.
Reagan with to Texas Tech and then Oklahoma State for 3 years.  She got a masters and a PhD in Child Psychology.  She landed an internship at John Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.  She and her husband now live in Fort Worth with their two daughters (Mary Pearl’s great granddaughters), Cara, 5, and Einesley, 6 months.
Raeley went to Texas A&M.  She and her husband both went to medical school at North Texas State, and then to Wake Forest, North Carolina for internships.  Then Raeley received a fellowship at Texas Children’s’ Hospital in pediatric intensive care.  Both she and her husband work at Dallas Children’s’ Hospital now.  They have a daughter, Adelynn, and two boys, Hunter, 2, and Nolan, 3 months.
With all her own accomplishments, Mary Pearl is most proud of her family’s accomplishments.  She brings much sunshine to her church family.  Be sure to give Mary Pearl a hug and tell her how much you appreciate her being a member of our church family!
By Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight
Delta Underwood

January 2018

Delta was born in Binghamton, New York, which is 10 miles north of Pennsylvania, and 4 hours northwest of New York City. Her grandfather worked at a foundry in the area making cast iron pans. Her mother came from a family of 10, and her father came from a family of 8, so although she has only one brother, she has dozens of cousins. Her mother and father both worked for the Endicott Johnson Company which manufactured shoes. Her mother put the linings into the shoes, and her father took care of the boilers.

After graduating from Binghamton North High School, Delta met her future husband, David Mosher, at church. They had six children, 4 boys and 2 girls. Four of her children still live in the Binghamton area, one lives in Texas, and one just moved to Oklahoma. Delta recently got to spend a week with each of her kids in New York when she went to celebrate her mother’s 96th birthday. Now, her family has expanded to include 12 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren, with another great on the way.
Raising her six fine children is what Delta considers her greatest success in life. She stayed home with the children until she divorced, and then she supported the six kids on her own by operating a paper route. The paper route was fifty miles long out into the country up into the hills “God took care of us,” says Delta, marveling that she was able to keep 6 kids fed, clothed and housed on what she earned from the paper route. Not only did she have to support the kids, but she had to pay for the gas to run the route, as well as keep the car running. “The numbers just didn’t add up. God had to be making it happen.”
In her own “endless pot” Stone Soup story, Delta once made stew for the family for supper. Not only did the seven in the family eat supper, but each child had a friend, and her son Wesley remembers having 3 bowls of the stew himself. Delta figures 30 bowls of stew were served. “It was only a regular sized pot,” Delta remembers. “It was a miracle that we got that many servings out of it.”
Those hard times had their own kind of fun. She would pick up her youngest son from kindergarten and they would drive the 25 miles to the end of the route, and then get treats and lunch from a store. He would help with the route, and his pay off was the treats. He loved riding with her. For a bit of fun, Delta used to drive 80 mph on the back roads. Because of a mutual friend, the cops would only shake their finger at her.
Delta remembers many good times with her kids, including packing up the crew with strollers and a picnic lunch and walking 3 miles to the beach on the lake for a day of swimming and picnicking. And if the weather was too bad to go out, they would run around the house chasing each other and having a grand time.
Delta moved to Texas 15 years ago. She worked at the Crossings Spa Center on Lake Travis. She loved it there. It was beautiful, and on breaks she could sit outside and enjoy nature. On the Fourth of July, she could sit by the pool and watch fireworks.
Delta joined Taylor FUMC five years ago. “Shelly and I came to choir rehearsal on Wednesday night, and then we sang for Sunday services, and joined the church,” she remembers. Vesta Ryan and Bob Walker welcomed her most warmly, and she has been a faithful church and choir member ever since. “I love the way that the church feels like a family,” says Delta. “If it didn’t, I wouldn’t stay!”
Her favorite hymn is “To God Be the Glory.” She loves it because it praises God in a robust way, and she loves to sing the harmony.
Delta has a hidden talent of knowing American Sign Language. She used to sign songs, and could translate although she says signing songs is much easier.
Delta would love to travel to Hawaii, but she confides she wouldn’t come home again. She loves beaches and spends as much time near water as she can. She has researched Hawaii, and has planned her budget, her itinerary as well as her accommodations – which would be a cabin at the edge of the jungle in sight of the beach. She’s saving up her money to go. She would love to spend the rest of her days there.
I, for one, hope she doesn’t save up the money too fast, because Delta is such a gift of us here for her service and her singing. Give her a hug the next time you see her.


By Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight

Marsha Beckermann
September 17, 2017
Marsha Brandt Beckermann was born in Houston and married Raymond Beckermann in 1977.  Marsha and Raymond joined FUMC Taylor in December of 1980. Marsha and Raymond have two sons, Christopher and Daniel, two daughters-in-law, Michelle and Amber, and two grandsons, Brandt and Turner. 
In 1960, she moved to Seabrook just 5 blocks from Galveston Bay.  Just days before the Hurricane Carla made landfall, Marsha had a dress up birthday party with 10 or so of her friends.  In the photo taken at the party, the girls all went a sheltered side of the house, but still all the veils and dresses were blowing one direction.  That night, just before dark, the National Guard came around with bullhorns saying all families had to evacuate or the National Guard would move them. 
Marsha’s parents loaded up Marsha and her brother, David, plus the dog and cat.  They went to her paternal grandparents’ house in Wallis.  By the second day, there was no electricity and they were pummeled with rain and wind, but Marsha remembers that time fondly because of several things. 
First, her father taught them how to take a bath in one quart of water, which he had learned in the navy.  “I thought that was the coolest thing,” says Marsha.  Also, their grandmother taught them how to play Canasta with 3 decks.  There were so many cards that young Marsha could barely hold them.  And the experience of seeing the hurricane, especially the eye of the hurricane, was an experience Marsha will never forget.
The heavy rain and winds stopped, and sunshine came out.  Her father said, “Y’all go out with me.”  They looked up in the vortex of the storm.  Thousands of birds were flying desperately, caught in the eye wall.  Within 15-30 minutes, the winds picked up and started slamming the other side of the house. 
When they got back to Seabrook, their house was spared, and only lost 3 shingles, but all around were the effects of the hurricane.  Debris was piled up 10 -1 5 feet high.  Spears of glass and even grass stems were blown through telephone poles.
In 1961, President Kennedy announced the goal of putting a man on moon.  This goal brought very exciting times to Marsha’s community because NASA began to build the space center at Clear Lake.  Seven astronauts and their families were members of Marsha’s church:  Seabrook Methodist Church.  Scott Carpenter’s son was in Marsha’s 6 or 7th grade class.  For show and tell, Astronaut Carpenter sent space food samples – astronaut squeeze packages of peaches and chicken salad.
Marsha’s maternal grandmother got her interested in nutrition as a young child.  In the 1930s, her grandmother was conscious of spending the grocery money to buy whole wheat bread and whole grains.  She continued her interest in health and nutrition her whole life.
Once her grandmother brought home ten pounds of organic carrots.  Marsha started salivating because she knew there would be carrot juice.  Her grandmother said, “They have to be scrubbed first.”  She put little Marsha up on a step stool, and Marsha kept going until they were finished.
Marsha took art lessons from a retired commercial artist, Mr. Fred Weis.  He offered free lessons and all supplies to any kid in the neighbor who wanted to come.   Marsha found she loved art.
When she started university at SW Texas State in San Marcos (now Texas State), she first studied art but she found academic art to be stifling.  “I don’t want to produce art on demand for a grade for a professor,” she says. 
At SWTS, she also was studying German, and during the summer, she and a friend decided to go to Germany.  They signed up to be in a work exchange program but when the government cancelled the program, they decided to go anyway. They each had $300 in travelers’ checks and they would stay until they ran out of money.  They lasted 11 weeks.  Their moms and dads were amazed.
After that summer, she transferred to UT and she changed her major.  In 1974, she got a BA in Psychology.  During her senior year, she started exploring job opportunities and found a BA in Psychology was rather limiting.  She switched over to a pre-med track and filled her electives with microbiology, bio chemistry, and human nutrition.  After a year’s break, she came back in January ’76 and got a BS in Biochemistry and Nutrition in ’77 and later become a registered dietician. 
In October ’78, Marsha was hired at UT.  She was the first registered dietician for residence halls at UT, she managed five kitchens and 6000 students until 1990.
During that time, Marsha implemented many innovations in the kitchens, including computerizing the entire recipe and food service operation.  She supervised the student workers who coded recipes and developed nutrition program tours for students who led tours through the residence halls.  She was featured in a report on the CNN show “On the Menu.”
The sports nutrition niche becoming de rigeur in 1980s.  Marsha became very interested in pursuing that area in her career.  She went and introduced herself to Food Service Manager of Longhorn dining room.  He was interested in computerizing his system, so he created a job for Marsha, and she was able to pursue her interest.  They had to do some extensive remodeling of the Longhorn Dining Hall so that she would have an office and a ladies’ room.  She became the first sports nutritionist at UT.  Marsha worked as a sports nutritionist until her retirement.
The next time you see Marsha a big hug, and congratulate her on all her accomplishments and all the gifts she brings to Taylor FUMC.  You might even be able to twist her arm and get her to fill you in on all the interesting tales that wouldn’t fit into the Member Spotlight!
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Jean Stevens

Member Spotlight
Jean Stevens
August 27, 2017
Lois Jean Clark Stevens was born in Beverly, Kansas during the Great Depression.  Her family teases her that when she was born it created a deep depression all over the world.  The family moved to WaKeeney, Kansas when Jean was five years old.  Her father was an International Harvester dealer, and her mother was a housewife and active in the church.  She has an older sister, Beth Galloway.

Jean got her degree from Texas State College for Women, now Texas Women’s University.  While at the university, Jean heard a choir that so moving that she changed her major from education to music education and she’s been involved with music ever since.  She didn’t major in music because a recital was required and she didn’t want to do that.  She did accompany many recitals of other music students.  After graduating, she taught music in public schools for 3 years.

While she was living in Brian and teaching music in the public schools, Jean went with a friend to a Texas A&M yell practice.  There she met a handsome young man named Leland.  After that, she only had one date with one other person.  The rest were with Leland.  She and Leland married in August 29, 1953.

They have four children.  Beth Ann, William Wesley (Bill), Jeanette, and Leland Clark (Lee).  Beth lives in New Mexico, Jeanette in Houston, Bill in Austin and Lee lives near Dallas.  The kids grew up in Houston, but after they had flown the nest, Leland got a job in Taylor, and Jean and Leland moved here.

When they first came to the Taylor FUMC, they received a warm welcome, especially from Debi Tucker.  “I like the friendliness and caring of Taylor FUMC.  People really care,” Jean reports.  She loves Bible Study.  “I look forward to Mondays,” she says.

Jean played piano and organ for worship services at Taylor FUMC for 24 years, as well as many duets.  Though it is difficult for her to choose a single favorite, she says “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry” is her favorite hymn because she loves the words to it.  You can find it in The Faith We Sing, No. 2051, and the first verse goes:

“I was there to hear your borning cry,
I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.”
Jean started playing piano so young she doesn’t even remember starting to play the piano.  “We had a piano in our house,” she says.  “I took lessons in the first grade, but I didn’t learn how to read music so my mother took me out of those lessons.  In the third grade, I started again, and started learning how to read notes.” 

Jean played the oboe the high school band, but says she could never get a decent sound out of it.  “I sounded like a snake charmer,” she laughs.  Piano was always her primary instrument and she accompanied choirs in high school and choirs and UIL solos.

Her friends describe her as musical, likeable, and ready to laugh.  Even talking to Jean for a short time, you will notice she has that light-hearted spirit that leads to a ready laugh.

The most fun she’s ever had was doing musical things.  Her family is very musical although they all had their own teachers.  “I have accompanied my children but I never taught them.  I didn’t want their musical practice to be compared with make your bed,” she says.

While living in Houston, Jean accompanied a musical group called “The Classics”.  They sang Broadway-type music and sang for conventions and other events.  They rehearsed at Jean’s house, so her kids heard them practice.  Once, Beth went to a performance, and said in surprise, “Mother, you’re really good!”

Sometimes things happened in the performances that led to Jean being a stronger person.  Once when accompanying The Classics, Jean performed on an upright piano.  There was a vase on the piano that wobbled as she played.  Her eyes had to share time between the music and the vase to keep track of it!  “I had fear and dread that it would fall over on me during the performance,” she laughs.

Another time, the performance piano was so out of tune that she had to look down at her fingers on the keys to make sure she was playing the right keys.  The women sang in tune and the piano played out of tune.  The group could do nothing but laugh about it.

“Most performances were okay, just sometimes things happened that we were not expecting,” Jean says.

Among Jean’s hidden talents are the quite diverse skills of dramatic reading and water skiing.  When she was in high school, she gave a dramatic reading and went to state and got a 1.  “That talent is pretty well hidden because I wouldn’t be able to do that now,” Jean grins.  And her other talent is water skiing, although she hasn’t done that for a while.

If she had the chance to travel she would like to go abroad.  “I’ve never been to Europe and I would like to go to England and Italy.  I would like to see where Shakespeare grew up in Stratford on Avon,” she says.

We are so blessed to have Jean in our congregation.  Give her a hug and your thanks for her many years of service the next time you see her!

Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Vesta Ryan

 Member Spotlight

July 16, 2017

Vesta Ryan

By Robin McKinley

On a snowy January 23, in Wier, Texas, a baby girl was born.  She didn’t breathe, so the doctor sent the grandmother to get hot water and cold water.  She gathered snow in a pan for the cold, and filled another with the hot water.  The doctor alternated the baby’s feet from cold to hot and back again.  Finally, the baby gasped, and began to breathe.  Thank you, Lord, for the life of Vesta Ryan.  And Vesta has always believed that God let her live because He had a purpose for her.  The FUMC of Taylor knows that to be true.
Christened Vestadel, as a combination of her father and her mother’s name, Vesta chose to shorten her name when she learned in school that Vesta was the name of a goddess.
To get married, Vesta’s parents had to go to Georgetown to get a marriage license.  Her mother and father went by a Pastor Abbott’s house on the way to Georgetown.  “Can you marry us?”  The preacher said yes.  His children were running around snotty nosed, rumpled, and dirty.  Her mother thought, “Oh my goodness, those children are going to be at my wedding.”  To her surprise, when they returned from Georgetown, the children were all spic and span and dressed in their Sunday clothes.  But when her mother and father arrived, her mother literally had cold feet.  “I can’t get married with cold feet,” she said.  So, the preacher’s wife warmed a pan of water and her mother put her feet in, and then the marriage could proceed.  The preacher’s wife stood for them.
Her daddy was a master carpenter and many of the cabinets and bookcases in Taylor homes today were built by her daddy.  Vesta remembers, “He was a little bitty pipsqueak and red-headed.” 
During World War II, Vesta’s father and mother worked in the ship yards in Orange, Texas.  Her mother worked as an electrician wiring ships and her father did carpentry.  Her mother and father worked on two of the same ships.  When it came time for those two ships to be launched, Vesta, aged 10 or 11, was invited to see the launch. She still remembers vividly that one of the ships was launched straight out, but the other was launched on its side.  To get the ship into the water, men carried stalks of bananas for the ship to slide on, and the boat slide sideways into the water.

While in the fourth grade in Orange, Vesta got her first calling.  One of the girls in the school had her leg ripped open because a loose screw cut her as she slid down the playground’s metal slide.  Because she wanted to help, Vesta thought, “Oh God, I want to be a nurse.”
After the war ended, and the end of the school year in Orange ended, the family moved to Taylor in ’46, and Vesta started her freshman year at Taylor High.  About that time, her mother decided she wanted to be a nurse, and so while Vesta went to school, her mother did too.  She passed her boards Vesta’s sophomore year.  Taylor kids loved Vesta’s mother.  “My kids don’t cry when she gives a shot,” her patients’ mothers said.
In 1950, Vesta graduated 13th in a class of 68 from Taylor High having won several awards in school.  Her senior year she was voted Miss THS by the students.  She was an A student except, she admits, for English 4 where she could never get over an 89.  She was also the high school’s representative at Girls’ State. 
When she first moved to Taylor, her family went to First Christian Church.  She later met Edward in Sunday School.  The first time they met he had a patch on his face.  He had been in the war, but this injury was from a wreck in his car.  He drove down the street by the hospital, and a piece of lumber with no flag caught his face.  Blood streaming down his face, he got out of his car and went into the hospital.  Later he would remark on how convenient that was.
Edward and she were in the choir and Sunday School together.  They would go to church, come home and eat with Mother and Daddy, then later go to night church. 
For a while, Edward quit coming to see her.  Vesta remembered Edward saying he didn’t like seeing girls go to town with a bandana covering curlers in their hair.  One day, her grandmother asked her to go get a spool of pink thread.  Vesta took off down the street hairs in curlers topped with a bandana, and long pants. Who would she run into but Edward?
About that time, Vesta was working a summer job at a department store selling men’s socks.  Edward came in, saying he needed socks, but he asked Vesta for a date.  “I already have a date,” said Vesta.  “Well, how about Saturday?”  “No, I’m busy.”  “Okay, then, will you go to Sunday evening service with me?” Having asked 3 times, Vesta finally said yes.  The rest, as they say, is history.
On December 3, Edward asked Vesta to marry him.  “You don’t have to give an answer today,” he said.  Vesta was ready to say yes, but he said, “No, think it over.”   Two days later, they went for hamburgers, and he asked if Vesta had an answer.  She said yes.  Neither of them could eat so they gave their hamburgers to a dog hanging around the cafe.  Edward gave Vesta an engagement ring for Christmas.
Edward and Vesta got married on Monday morning at 7 a.m. on June 26, 1950, one month after she graduated from high school.  They didn’t want to get married on Saturday night because they would miss church on Sunday.  So, they married early Monday morning.  The church, which held 200, was full.  The congregation dressed in their work clothes so they could head on to work after the ceremony.  Edward’s folks said goodbye, and the newlyweds went to her mother and daddy’s to say goodbye.  Her daddy was eating a bowl of cereal, so she sat down and ate a bowl of cereal with him.  They were heading to Carlsbad, but they stopped in Pecos.  She put her orchid on the car and forgot, so she lost it as they drove away.
Edward had bought a home, and Vesta’s mother and her 5 sisters secretly prepared the home for them while they were on their honeymoon.  The men moved in the furniture, and the women settled everything else in.  When they returned home, everything was in its place, even down to flowers on the coffee table.  The water and gas were connected, thanks to Edward’s aunt who paid for the connections. 
Edward worked in the funeral home, and Vesta worked at the bank for 32 years.  She did almost every job at the bank, and most of all, she loved teller work. 
Vesta’s third calling was to be a teacher.  So, she wanted to be a missionary, a nurse and a teacher, and she came to be all three.  She taught her kids both at home and at church, and taught dozens of other kids and adults in Sunday School, as well as substitute teaching for a couple of years after she retired.  She served as a nurse to her kids as well as many others, serving as camp nurse at church camp for every year her children went.  And in 2015, she was able to join a missionary trip to Uganda.
Vesta has three children, six grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Her youngest granddaughter is getting married this weekend.

Another of Vesta’s talents is sewing.  Her grandmother sewed, and Vesta would sit by her side and watch her.  Vesta made all her going away clothes, and she sewed for children.  Later, someone at the bank said, “My daughter’s getting married.  Could you make the bridesmaids dresses?”  Vesta agreed and made six dresses.  So that started it all.  She never advertised or asked for work, but she has been kept busy with prom dresses and wedding dresses ever since.  “I love it,” says Vesta.  “I feel like I’m part of their families.”
Vesta has been a member of Taylor FUMC since 1983.  The preacher, Mark Childress, was most welcoming to them, and she has been a faithful member ever since.  “I like the church because it is my family.”  Her own family is far away – Gary is in Ft. Wroth, Diana is in Indiana, and Donna will be in Chad.  Vesta’s favorite hymns are “It is Well with My Soul,” “In the Garden,” and “Eagle’s Wings.”

This writer could tell you so much more about Vesta, and has left so many things out.  You will have to go talk to her and find out more about this precious gift of God who graces our church with her presence.

Member Spotlight, Amber Beckermann


Member Spotlight
Amber Beckermann
April 28, 2017
Amber Beckermann was born in Georgetown, and moved to Taylor when she was four. She is the oldest of three children in her close-knit family. Her sister, Shelby, is two years younger, and her brother, Dustin, is 7 years younger. Her mother, Monica Johnson, has worked for State Farm in Austin for 34 years. Her dad, Joe Johnson, does bidding for an Austin company, Texas Cutting and Coring. Amber and Daniel Beckermann, a long-time member of First UMC of Taylor, married three years ago on December 13, and have a darling baby boy, Turner, who was born last July 16. Daniel works for Brant Plumbing which is located in Austin, but he works all over wherever he is called. Amber counts her family as her biggest success in life. Her family is very open and talk about everything. She has a really healthy family which is a great support system.
Amber is very close to her grandmother, Dorothy, who she calls Granny. Granny tells a story of when Amber was little and in trouble with her mother. She was supposed to be sitting in the corner. Granny telephoned her mother during Amber’s time out and her mother confessed that she was close to spanking Amber. Amber piped up and said, “You can’t spank me because I am so precious. Granny says so.”
Amber was very close to her grandfather, too, who recently passed away at the age of 89. He had been sick and gotten better, but then worsened and died. So the family was not prepared. It was a very tough time for Amber. Her grandfather, along with her Granny, was the glue that holds the family together. Amber realized, “I knew I had to be stronger for my family.”
Amber works at Trinity Lutheran with the 3- and 4-year-olds. She started there last October. “I like it a lot,” says Amber. She has worked with kids since she was 17 (a LONG time ago, not!) She loves working with kids because they are all so different and they are excited about what they’re learning. One thing she misses about being a kid herself is taking naps. (Somehow with a little baby at home, this seems beyond understandable.) She tells the kids, “You will miss this when you are older.”
She worked for State Farm for three years, but didn’t like sitting behind a desk all day, so when the opportunity arose to work with children again, she took it. She says her dream job would be to be a counselor for children, especially those that have mental disabilities. She would like to work with kids who need special attention and be someone who has the time to give it to them.
If money were no object, Amber would be a stay-at-home mom. She would take Turner and go do fun things. “I’d spend as much time with him as I could,” she says. She would also do charity work.
Amber joined FUMC of Taylor this year in March. Formerly, she went to St. Mary’s in Taylor. Before joining, of course she knew Turner’s proud grandparents, Marsha and Raymond Beckermann, and she knew Shelli Cobb. The whole congregation, especially Vesta Ryan, was warm and welcoming. Amber is a big fan of Pastor Sela, and she likes how laid back the church is with an emphasis on being there to worship and be happy with each other’s fellowship. “Everyone wants to be there and help. There is a family-type feeling,” Amber says. Her favorite hymn is “Eagle Wings”. She loves the way it can fit in any mood or any situation. When sorrow hits, it comforts. When joy comes, it expresses that, too.
One of Amber’s hidden talents is cooking. She doesn’t have a single special dish so you could say her specialty is trying new things. “I cook really well and I love to cook. I like trying new recipes,” she says. Happily, Daniel is not a picky eater, and he enjoys the new recipes.
Another thing church members may not know is that when Amber was attending junior college she played softball. She loves to play. Both she and her sister played softball since they played T-ball as children. Amber doesn’t play anymore, but her sister is a softball coach at Ranger Junior College.
After junior college, Amber began to attend Texas State. She is still taking classes there, and is finishing as she is able. She is majoring in Applied Arts and Sciences, with special emphasis on Elementary Education, Psychology, and one more area still to be chosen.
Her friends describe her as an outgoing, people person who likes to look at the positive side of things. Her mother-in-law adores her and says she is the ideal daughter-in-law.
That positive nature shows up when Amber says that her life has taught her that you learn as you go. She says she hasn’t done everything by the book, but she has found love and started a family and she is doing what she loves – working with kids. Her life reminds her that measuring up to the status quo isn’t that important.
When asked about the most fun she’s had, Amber has a hard time choosing. She has a lot of fun with her friends and family. Her wedding day was amazing. Turner’s birth was amazing. She finds fun in large things, but also in small ways. Once when she was a junior in high school, she was at a softball tournament. After the tournament, they and her friends were at the hotel. They were watching something on TV, and one of the girls made a comment. “It’s a beached whale.” “We all died of laughing,” she reports. Maybe you had to be there, but “fun in life comes from making jokes, being fun, and silly. It was a great experience,” she says.
Amber’s eyes light up when asked where she would like to travel. “Europe,” she says. Which country? No one in particular but all over Europe. “There are so many places to go and such much history and culture. That would be amazing. I love history. I could sit and watch the history channel all the time.”
We are so lucky to have such a brilliant light in the world as Amber as a part of FUMC of Taylor. Be sure to give her a big hug and welcome her to the congregation.
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Nellie Ledesma

Member Spotlight

Nellie Ledesma
March 10, 2017
Nellie Ledesma was born in Nueva Laredo, Mexico, and adopted by her family who lived in Cotulla on a ranch where they raised cattle and chicken.  She spent most of her early life in Cotulla from kindergarten through high school.  Besides her mom and dad, her family included four older children. 
Nellie fondly remembers her childhood on the ranch.  They would go to the river, which she loved.  “I loved listening to the river,” Nellie says.  Since Cotulla was very dry and hot, a favorite thing to do was to play in the huge spigot from the irrigation pipes.  She had a pet deer, brought home by her dad when the mother was killed.  Nellie loved the faun, and the faun loved her, even after she grew up and had two baby bucks.  Even as an adult, her doe would eat out of Nellie’s hand.
Nellie rode the bus from the ranch to school, and remembers trading her tacos for sandwiches.  She thought sandwiches were wonderful because that meant being rich.  The kids who came to school with sandwiches thought they got the better deal because they though tacos tasted better.  School was rough in the beginning for Nellie, as she spoke no English and the school spoke no Spanish.  A big change for her came when one of her teachers took a special interest in Nellie, and she made the promise to learn what she needed to learn. 
Nellie has been married to Rob Ledesma for 20 years.  Rob does commercial flooring for places such as Army bases, schools and hospitals.  He is on the road constantly, since they have been blessed with a lot of contracts. They have no children, but she has three dogs, and they have lots of nieces and nephews.  She is now taking turns with her sister caring for her elderly mother. 
Nellie no longer works because of an accident that left her disabled two years ago when she fell off a ladder.  Before the accident, she worked in the prison for seven years, and before that in other positions as an administrative secretary in Round Rock and Austin.
A member of Taylor FUMC for a month, Nellie used to be a Catholic, but likes her new Methodist experience.  Betty Brown invited her to come to church and she especially appreciates our pastor who was most welcoming to her when she attended.  She reports she was actually shocked when she first came because the members of the church were so outgoing and welcoming.  Her Catholic experience was of a much more reserved and quiet congregation.  “It’s awesome,” she says.  “Before when I left a service, I felt like I was carrying the cross, but now I feel uplifted when I leave.”
Nellie reports that she always wanted to sing in the choir.  [The writer enthusiastically let her know the choir welcomes new members and would love to have her take part!] Her favorite hymns are “I’ll Fly Away” and “Go Rest High Upon the Mountain.”  She loves those because they free your spirit, and remind you that it is okay to let go.  She loves the bluesy, belted-out, soulful, old gospel music.
As a good friend, Nellie can be boisterous and out-spoken but she gave up being snarky for Lent.  “I want to be a friend people would like to have,” says Nellie.  Her husband says she’s a good wife. 
If money were no object, Nellie would be a missionary somewhere she knows the language.  She would love to help communities.  And as for where to travel, she would love to go to Nazareth and the Holy Land.
The most fun Nellie has ever had was going to Costa Rica, sightseeing and learning about the county.  She particularly enjoyed getting to know the citizens of Costa Rica, and remembers one family who was selling coconut water on the beach.  The mother was working very hard, and had several children helping out as well.  Rob asked one of the boys if they liked soccer.  They replied “Oh, yes!”  Rob and Nellie came up with the idea to go to the little market near there, and buy the boys a soccer ball and whatever else they needed so that they could play.  “That made their day and it made our day,” says Nellie.  “It made me feel so good.”
Be sure to let Nellie know how much we appreciate her being a part of our congregation, and wait until you hear how beautifully she sings!
By Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Don Hughes

Don Hughes
Member Spotlight

February 26, 2017

Don Hughes, Donald Jay Hughes to be precise, is probably the first person you meet when you come to Taylor FUMC.  His smiling face is there every Sunday as the usher for our services.  He sits on the back row, which he and the other faithful laughingly call “Sinner’s Row.”  From that alone you can tell the merry twinkle in his eyes stems from a great sense of humor.

Don likes nothing better than help people.  He had a beloved aunt who was in a wheelchair.  He would pick her up and bring her to church.   He has helped several others in the same way.  He remembers enjoying singing with his aunt their favorite hymn: “How Great Thou Art.”  And his other favorite hymn is “In the Garden”.    

Don loves Taylor FUMC, having attended since childhood and during the time the church worshipped in the old building on Fifth Street.  “It seems like a close-knit group,” he says.  He likes the get-togethers and the events where people work together.  He fondly remembers Vacation Bible School from the old church, as well as MYF when the youth would play the Baptists in different games.

Don was born in Taylor, Texas, although his family farmed in Beyersville some eight miles away.  His middle name, Jay, was after the doctor that delivered him.  Later, during the depression, the family moved to Taylor.  He has an older sister, Florean, who lives in Tomball, and had an older brother who passed away before Don was born.

Don’s family is very important to him and in fact it’s kind of hard to get him to talk about anything else.  He has three daughters, Brenda and Donna both live in Hutto, and Kimberly who lives in Taylor.  Don’s wife, Bonnie, passed away in 2001.  Bonnie had four children by a previous marriage, and Don is still close to them.  Then, there’s the grandkids.  Each daughter has two children.  The grandchildren’s professions range from high school coach to police dispatcher.

Family times included a lot of fishing and camping.  He would help the girls learn to bait the hooks.  He also went camping with his cousins.  Once, after a flood, they were swimming in the river and they stepped on a dead cow.  Everyone was scared, and they all jumped out.  It’s a story that everyone remembers to this day. 

Don served in the Air Force for 25 years, having enlisted in 1955.  While stationed at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, he attended technical school, and later became an instructor.  His specialty was supply and distribution.  He served at numerous bases in the US, and did tours in Viet Nam, France, French Morocco and England.  In England, his daughters lived on base with him and Bonnie, and they especially loved him being in the Air Force because they got to travel all over Europe.  Don remembers helping coach the softball teams which went to different bases to compete.

After retiring from the Air Force, Don and his family came back to Taylor.  For many years, he worked at Westinghouse and Intercraft.  He and Bonnie had planned to go traveling when he retired, but she came down with lymphatic cancer and passed away before they had the chance.  If he had the chance now, he would love to go to the Grand Canyon and to Niagara Falls.

Be sure to give Don an extra hug when you see him for all of the loving kindness he brings to our church!

Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Carolyn Gautier

Member Spotlight
Carolyn Gautier

January 29, 2017

Carolyn Gautier was born in Chicago. Her father was in law school at Loyola University, and met her mother at an anti-communist rally. She has two sisters in Texas, a brother and sister in Chicago, and a brother and sister in California. There were originally nine children, of whom seven are still with us today. Her family was raised Catholic and always tells the story of when her father was dying, and Carolyn hadn’t been to church in a while. She felt compelled to get a priest to administer last rites for her father. It was the middle of the night, but she went to the church, knocked on the door, and asked the man who answered, “Are you a priest?” He said yes, and she asked him to come say last rites for her father. He agreed, and only later they found out that he was the pope’s emissary, at the church for a temporary time. Carolyn had gotten the emissary of the pope out of bed for her father. It’s that kind of dedication and loyalty that makes Carolyn such a good friend.

Carolyn worked and retired from AT&T after 25 years. She then worked in Austin for 2.5 years as a medical claims analyst, doing Medicaid claims for 99 counties. She retired in November, but may continue to do work for them from home. She liked the way her job was a puzzle, and she had to find the anomaly to finish the claim. She enjoyed the people she worked with, she could wear jeans, and they had good coffee. What could be better?

Recently, Carolyn and her sister purchased a duplex together in Gauthier, Mississippi. The town was founded by her great-grandfather. Mississippi is kind to seniors and seems like a good place to retire, but Carolyn wasn’t really intending to buy property there. This duplex just popped up, and the price and layout was just too good to resist. She is in the process of moving there, but she promises to come visit often.

Carolyn has been a member of the church for six years. She started by going to the Sunday School class led by Mitch and Lisa Drummond. She was most impressed when Mitch and Glynn Tucker got into an argument, but later they remained friends. Glynn, in particular, loves to banter back and forth with Carolyn but when the chips are down, he is there for her. He once came over in the middle of the night to help her get her lights turned back on. And once when she totaled her car, Debi Tucker met her at the police station to take her home. She has many friends at the church and counts Shirley Ball and Linda Clevenger as very dear women friends.

Her favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. Just hearing the hymn makes her cry every time. She loves the story of how it’s written, and that the song talks about redemption and renewal.

Her friends would describe her as funny and telling lots of funny stories. Many have told her to write a book. She really likes children, and has lots of nieces and nephews she enjoys. She is very close to her family. She’s easy going and grateful, and she takes nothing for granted. “I don’t worry because God has control,” she says. As for flaws, she does admit she will procrastinate.

Long before Carolyn came to Taylor, she had always enjoyed doing an artistic signature that includes a duck. Quite the coincidence! She loves to play games and especially darts.

Carolyn has fun all the time, and especially had fun one time when she went to China with some friends. They were on a double decker bus and ended up in the bus garage! They all just started laughing. The bus driver didn’t understand why they were laughing and, not speaking English, didn’t know how to help. They ended up taking a bus to the airport, calling the hotel, and getting a shuttle from there. They were just in hysterics.

We’re going to miss having Carolyn on a full time basis, but let’s hold her to that promise to come visit often!
Written by Robin McKinley

Member Spotlight, Charlene Olbrich


Member Spotlight 

Charlene Olbrich 
Charlene Olbrich was born in Whitney, Texas (the nearest big town is Hillsboro.) She was named after her dad, Charlie, and that’s why you pronounce her name CHARlene, rather than SHARlene. Her dad was a band director and they moved to many different towns following his job. She lived in Italy, Falfurrias, Rosenberg, Dayton (TX), Deleon, and back to Whitney. Her father passed away and her mother remarried. Her mom had three children, Charlene and twin sisters, and her dad had two children, a boy and a girl. The blended family became very close-knit and Charlene adored her step-father. The family calls her the strong one of the family, partly because she cared for her mother and father who lived across the street.

One day, her new dad got a job building the Alcoa plant and the family moved to Thorndale. Charlene was a sophomore in high school, and she graduated a mere year later, after her junior year. Little did Charlene know at that time that being a Thorndale ex would turn into such a big part of her life later on. Today, Charlene spends a lot of her time working for the Thorndale exes association. Every week, Charlene writes an article, most of the time including photos, about the exes for the Thorndale paper. The column is titled “Keeping up with the Thorndale Exes.” Every year, Charlene organizes events for the exes during homecoming week. They send out 2500 invitations, and a couple of hundred exes come every year.

Leroy Olbrich had already graduated from high school before Charlene arrived in Thorndale, but Charlene would see him working at the gas station. Once when they passed by, her mama said about Leroy, “If I were younger, that’d be my boyfriend.” Later, she was invited on a blind date, and some friends upset her terribly by telling her that Leroy was wild. It was a case of mistaken identity, and the “wild” Leroy worked at the gas station too, but the date was with Leroy Olbrich. A few years after Charlene graduated from high school, they married. Charlene walked down the aisle carrying Leroy’s bible that they still read every day.

Charlene and Leroy have a son, Jeff, who lives in Pflugerville. He got his BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Texas. He teaches statistics at St. Edwards University.

Charlene and Leroy joined the church about 15 years ago when the Thorndale UMC closed down. She remembers SR and Carolyn Moss met them at the door, and claimed them as member immediately. They were even put in the church directory before they were members. They had visited several other churches but found Taylor FUMC to be the most welcoming to them. Both she and Leroy love going to church. She loves our preacher and also loves to sit when it’s quiet and enjoy the stained glass windows. Charlene has served for several years as chair of the Finance Committee. Among her many talents, she is an organist and pinch hit for 9 months when we were without an organist, and Ellen Hannington played the piano. She also filled in as secretary once when the church was looking for a secretary.

Her favorite hymns are “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Garden,” because her mama loved it so much.
Charlene worked in the secretarial/financial administration of numerous schools, including Taylor High School. She also worked for a landscape company that she really loved. That company went from 27 employees to 500 employees in 3 years’ time. “I enjoyed working,” says Charlene.

Her hidden talents include painting and she has won first place on two of her paintings. She has numerous of her paintings decorating her house, including one of Leroy’s mother with the turkeys she raised. Another of her paintings is framed with wood from Leroy’s mother’s old house and another with wood from the outhouse. Charlene also has a huge talent for genealogy, and has 75 binders of information on her and Leroy’s families going back 30 generations and including 50,000 people. She and Leroy walked numerous cemeteries scouring the tombstones for family connections. The most famous family she has found are some close relatives of presidents, although none are direct ancestors. She would love to travel to Ireland to see the homeland of her ancestors and to visit the cemeteries there.

Charlene is an amazing woman, and an incredibly hard worker. In fact, I am so worn out thinking about all she accomplishes, I think I need to lie down for a little bit. Give her your appreciation when you see her!
Written by Robin McKinley