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Happy Birthday, Mildred Taylor!

On this day in 1905, a local legend was born.

Frances Mildred Frick was born on April 21, 1905, in Lyons, New York. She was the daughter of Louis and Belle (Everhart) Frick; Mildred attended Lyons Central School and for a short time the Rochester Business Institute. She married Elijah Paul Taylor (1903–1969) on September 22, 1937. The couple ran a coal retailing business in Lyons.

Mildred entered the political arena in 1940 as a Republican candidate for the New York State Assembly. She won the election to become Wayne County’s first woman representative in the Assembly. Mildred would serve in the Assembly from 1946 thru 1960. She was also the first woman elected to the Assembly Commitee on Ways and Means. Her influence and prestige earned her a delegate spot at the 1940, 1948, and 1960 Republican National Conventions. She was even a Presidential elector for the 1956 election where she cast her vote for Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

Mildred’s tenure in the Assembly saw her champion many bills that would benefit New York State residents. She was involved with legislation that impacted the pension of teachers, public employees, and retired teachers. She supported conservation legislation that protected Lake Ontario. She was also involved with legislation that protected the migrant workers in New York State. Not only that, but she was also responsible for creating the Committee for the Preservation of Historic Sites. This committee, upon which she served as a chair, saw to the provision of funds for historical sites throughout New York State, including the Erie Canal, the homes of Edgar Allen Poe, Alexander Hamilton, and Theodore Roosevelt.

There are three key pieces of legislation that she was involved with that have a direct impact on our lives here in Lyons.

  • The first was in 1952-1953 when the Town of Lyons was in need of building a new school and one contingent wanted to build it on Dunn Road where Parker Hannifin was located and another was advocating where Taylor Park now stands. To solve this dilemma she crafted a bill that is still used today which lays out the parameters for choosing a site to build a new school. This bill helped guide the citizens in Lyons in choosing the current site of the high school.

  • The second piece of legislation deals with the Route 14 by-pass over the railroad tracks on Geneva Street. This area was known to be very dangerous with trains coming through and foot traffic and automobile traffic cutting across the tracks as well. In 1949 Mildred Taylor secured the funding to build this overpass which was completed in 1950 and we are still using it today.

  • The last piece of legislation to highlight had to deal with New York City charging a tax on anyone who carried on any type of business in the city. This tax directly impacted the farmers and canning factories in the upstate area. Mildred quickly went to work to amend this practice and had the current legislation changed so that it would no longer impact her upstate constituents.

Mildred Taylor was also credited with designating the rose as the state flower of New York in 1955 and the Monroe Brand of apple as our state apple. And it was not by coincidence that she made these selections as both the rose and apples were products of Wayne County.

Mildred Taylor died on January 4, 1981, in Clifton Springs Hospital. She is buried at the South Lyons Cemetery in Lyons. She was honored on November 1, 1998, and named the “First Lady of Wayne County.” A historic marker was erected on Route 14 in Lyons in her honor recognizing all her achievements as a strong influence in New York State politics for over 50 years.

Happy Birthday, Mildred!

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