By SONYA ROBERTS-WOODS/Publisher
For most, a recent early morning discovery of a female body in Pittsburg meant an unspeakable tragedy with little personal attachment. But for those who truly knew Tashiana Sharday Taylor, her death has created an irrevocable void that will last a lifetime.
A 2012 graduate of Pittsburg High School, Taylor touched so many lives in her short 24 years. The tragedy also meant the death of Taylor’s unborn son who was set to arrive at the end of December.
John Whitten taught Taylor in both photography and yearbook at Pittsburg High School. Now teaching in Mount Pleasant, Whitten worked in Pittsburg for seven years.
“Tashiana had a heart of gold,” Whitten said. “As soon as she walked into the class each day, she lit up the room with her presence. Tashiana had a very outgoing personality and I enjoyed having her in class. When I first met her, it took a few days for her to open up and talk in class. Once she did, we developed a close relationship. She always had a smile, was very respectful and could have me laughing with some of our conversations.”
Even after she graduated, Whitten kept up with his former student.
“I stayed in touch with Tashiana through Facebook and when I would see her at her job,”he said. “I know she would have been a wonderful mom.”
For more than four years, Taylor worked at the Mount Pleasant Walmart location. She had just recently received a promotion to manager of the men’s and boys’ department. Store Manager Blake Strube remembers Taylor’s signature smile.
“She was the type of person who was always laughing,” Strube said. “Tashiana had that friendly, happy-go-lucky personality. I never recall a day when she wasn’t smiling. She just enjoyed life. She will be greatly missed here at the store.”
Helen Ray, office receptionist at Pittsburg High School since 2009, will also miss Taylor’s bubbly personality.
“She was such a fun-loving person,” Ray said. “Every time I saw her, she had a smile on her face. She was a lovable person; always nice and always very respectful.”
Ray reflected on how Taylor should be remembered.
“I think she should be remembered as a ray of sunshine,” Ray said. “Wherever you saw her, you saw that beautiful smile. It’s just so sad. Her life was tragically cut too short.”
Of all of Taylor’s fellow 2012 classmates, Shakedra Traylor was arguably one of her closest friends. The two remained the best of friends even after graduation.
“Tashiana moved to Pittsburg when we were in intermediate school,” Traylor recalled. “I was her first friend here and it just went from there. We were inseparable. When you saw one, you saw the other one. We just had that kind of bond.”
That unique bond may have been what triggered Traylor to suspect something was wrong that fateful Monday morning.
“I actually awoke out of my sleep, for some reason, early that morning,” Traylor said, “and right after that my phone rang.”
It was Traylor’s father, Scottie, on the other line delivering the tragic news.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I got up and went to her house and that’s when it became real to me.”
Traylor and other family and friends had just celebrated the impending arrival of Taylor’s son at a baby shower held Nov. 11.
“She was so excited to become a mother,” Traylor said. “Her due date was Dec. 31 and my son’s birthday is Dec. 30 so we joked that we hoped Khorian came on the same day. I know she would have been a great mother. She was making sure everything in her life was right for when he came. I’m so devastated that we didn’t get a chance to share any of that.”
Traylor emceed a candlelight vigil hosted by the Class of 2012 Dec. 2 in Julius Moore Park in Pittsburg. Some 200 friends and family members gathered to remember Taylor.
“She was such a bubbly, hardworking, outspoken and ambitious person who loved life,” Traylor said. “What I will miss most about her are the random text messages she would send—just silly stuff. But she would also, out of the blue, send ‘I love you’ texts to me. She was a genuine friend.”
Traylor last spoke to Taylor late Saturday night—less than two days before her death.
“We were to talk on a group chat (the following day) Sunday at 5 p.m., but she didn’t connect. I still can’t believe she’s gone.”
Funeral services for Tashiana Sharday Taylor and her son Khorrian L. Taylor will be held Saturday, December 8 at 1 p.m. at the Pittsburg High School Annex located at 307 Elm St. Rev. Patrick Lloyd will serve as eulogist. Burial will follow at Whitmore Cemetery in Daingerfield under the direction of Johnson Funeral Home in Pittsburg. Taylor was born April 3, 1994 and died November 26, 2018.
She is survived by her mother Tequita (Nikki) Taylor of Pittsburg, her father Leedward Hopkins of Houston, sister Dysheria D. Taylor of Pittsburg, grandmothers Sharon Hopkins of Hughes Springs and Hannah Garrett of Pittsburg, grandfathers Elton Bolden of Mount Pleasant and Brady Hopkins of Hughes Springs as well as a host of aunts, uncles and cousins.