For as long as she’s lived in Mountain City, Hays County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Beth Smith always felt neighbor Phillip Taylor was practically part of the family.
Taylor, who lived a few houses down, was a regular figure at the Smith household, always playing in their pool with their children, or going though similar activities such as Cub and Boy Scouts.
“I’ve been involved in his life since he was a small child,” Beth Smith said.
Even after they all graduated from Hays High, Taylor joined Smith’s children in staying involved in their local community, eager to serve their fellow residents.
That family-first mentality is how many in the small 230-plus home neighborhood are remembering Taylor, days after he passed away in a single-vehicle wreck on FM 2770.
For Smith, it exemplifies the close-knit subdivision they live in, where everyone looks out for one another.
“Every time something happens, it affects our whole community, it’s a family,” Smith said.
For many, Taylor was not only a dedicated public servant, but also a devoted father to his son. Smith said Taylor attended various events his son took part in.
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said in a statement Taylor was a friend to everyone and was an “outstanding public servant.”
Taylor, a 1996 Hays High graduate, spent close to 20 years with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office in various roles. That included overseeing the School Resource Officer (SRO) program at three Hays County school districts.
In 2018, Taylor was hired by Hays CISD as the district’s first Director of Safety and Security.
“These roles fit his life mission perfectly and there was no one better than Phillip to fill them,” Mitchell said.
Hays CISD officials also mourned Taylor’s loss, both personally and professionally, said Hays CISD Superintendent Eric Wright.
Wright said Taylor’s experience and talent made him the perfect choice for the Safety and Security position, as well as his “deep ties” to the district and community.
“We also couldn’t have asked for a more friendly, fun and compassionate colleague,” Wright said. “Phillip was not just a coworker, he was a member of our school district and community family who will be missed.”
Taylor’s reach extended to the very city and community he lived in. Taylor, who had served as alderman and mayor pro tem of the Mountain City city council, was named the city’s mayor in 2016.
Smith said Taylor was a regular figure during “Shattered Dreams” retreats and spoke to students about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Ralph McClendon, current Mountain City Mayor Pro Tem, said in a statement on the city’s Facebook page that Taylor served the city with passion because “he loved living here.”
Mountain City officials and Hays County leaders successfully advocated for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to allow for flags to be lowered in the area to half-staff to honor Taylor.
“He will be missed tremendously,” McClendon said. “Please join us in prayers for his family during this time of loss.”
Suzanne Hallam, a Mountain City council member and a former employee of the Hays Free Press, said Taylor was a “lot sweeter than people think” and that he had a soft side to his personality. She also recalled how smart Taylor was, especially when it came to city matters, and that he was wise beyond his years.
Alongside his dedication as a public servant was his dedication to his son. Hallam said Taylor, who had a close relationship with his father, mirrored that same bond with his son, Aiden.
“I just hurt for them, because of all the things I see him (Aiden) post about his dad and what kind of man he’d like to be; just like his father,” Hallam said. “They were all very close.”