During the past two years and recent months, God has been pruning his flower garden at St. Paul AME Church. Lillian Taylor a retired employee at Kaiser Permanente, Chart Room Department Fontana; Alveria Taylor my political consultant on the Delman Heights community; Ruth Kelley a student of mine when I was teaching the adult Sunday School class and the most recent is Joshua (J.R.) Humphrey a singer. Bro. Humphrey was in the male choir with me over a decade ago. Now there are others that have been plucked from the St. Paul garden over the past few years but these were planted close to me so when they left, it was noticed plus we all had a special relationship that went beyond the church walls.
SIS. ALVERIA TAYLOR was connected with me in serving the community of San Bernardino in Delman Heights for over thirty years. She knew and understood that community better than anyone living there and would not hesitate to tell you. This is the forgotten community she would often say to me.
SIS. LILLIAN TAYLOR worked with me at Kaiser and from time to time she would give me advice on employee issues. She never sought the spotlight but would not hesitate to share her thoughts with me in confidence. She was the kind of person that made me look good when I acted on her advice.
SIS. RUTH KELLEY was a supporter and was always encouraging me to reach higher than I thought I could go. She would read my editorials and send words of encouragement to me through her daughter Betty Taylor. She was also a good singer and program organizer of special events.
BRO. JOSHUA HUMPHREY was the kind of man that would not let you quit. When we started the male choir and would only have a few members show up for practice, Josh would say let the show go on. We sung on the fourth Sunday and would meet at my house Sunday morning to practice for that morning’s service. Regina Manning of Riverside, was our musical director with other members such as Rev. Art Forbes and his three sons, Rev. John Woods and his sons, Rev. Alex Powell and others. But we would come together and JR would always take the lead if need be. Bro. Humphrey was also the guy that kept the group laughing with his humor.
Not a member of the St. Paul family but a friend of every pastor that served in the pulpit was Bob Holcomb, former Mayor of San Bernardino. We could count on him to visit, add to the collection plate and provide city services as needed or requested. When Rev. Jacks was president of the ministerial alliance, Holcomb would lead other elected officials to give at all special services if they wanted to speak. When Holcomb took office he took action and removed shotguns from the city fire trucks put there by the previous mayor. When the community refused to seat the Black History Queen on the Rose Bowl Float in Pasadena, it was Holcomb that helped to get Gannett News to pressure the Sun Newspaper editor to soften their position. The queen did get to ride on the float with a lot of help from the community and Black Voice News. Holcomb was a very progressive and controversial man, so when Jesse Jackson ran for president in the eighties it was Mayor Bob Holcomb who gave Jackson his endorsement at New Hope Baptist Church. Many people told Holcomb this would cost him his own election but he was convinced Jackson was the best candidate at the time. When I ran for office, Holcomb was right there as a supporter.
Like I said earlier, there are others that have been plucked from the garden in the Inland Empire and now grace the Lord’s Table but these people had a special place in my life.