"Dedie, quit your job. Sell the apartment. Get down here! This is the place."
Lonn Taylor, writer and historian died at home in Fort Davis on June 26, 2019. He was 79.
Jeff Davis County Justice of the Peace Mary Ann Luedecke said, “It is a huge, huge loss for the area. He was such an amazing historian and always had a fun story and could make us all chuckle about it.”
Taylor worked as a historian and curator for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for twenty years and authored ten books, the most recent of which is Turning the Pages of Texas (TCU Press, 2019). He had a weekly column and podcast called “The Rambling Boy” with the newspaper The Big Bend Sentinel and Marfa Public Radio, in which he covered all manner of esoteric Texana-Americana and history.
Taylor was born in South Carolina. He came to Texas in 1962 from New York City to attend a summer class in Austin. According to an interview he gave to Texas Highways last year, Taylor “happened to move into a garage apartment next door to the legendary rock singer [Janis Joplin], whose late-night jam sessions with her ‘seven or eight’ musician roommates proved more compelling than Taylor’s coursework. ‘About the second week, I quit going to class,’ he confesses. ‘I never went back to New York. I never got a Ph.D.'”
Taylor spent the majority of his career in Washington, D.C., but retired to Fort Davis in 2002 after he came back to Texas for a visit. In the Texas Highways interview, he says: “I attended a conference at Sul Ross in Alpine. It was an absolutely beautiful spring day. I was driving back to the airport in Midland when I stopped in the Fort Davis Drugstore to have breakfast. They still had payphones then, so I called Dedie [his wife] and said, ‘Dedie, quit your job. Sell the apartment. Get down here! This is the place.'”
According to Marfa Public Radio, before his death, Taylor was working on an autobiography.