For over 45 years, Octavia Taylor inspired her students in the Camden High School classroom to achieve their personal best in their lives, as well as in volleyball, tennis, drill/dance team and gymnastics. She was a role model that many students followed into their own teaching professions. Her popularity is evident when she is greeted frequently by former students with hugs and squeals! She was born and raised in Arkansas, graduated from University of Central Arkansas in Conway when it was Arkansas State Teachers College, and as a young mother, began teaching. With five grown children and nine grandchildren, she continues to lead and teach in the community – even at the age of 90! Octavia chairs the DAR Constitution Week celebration in Ouachita County, and personally participates in the “Bells Across America” bell ringing at her St. John’s Episcopal Church. She yearly writes letters in the newspaper promoting the Constitution, and gets Proclamations declared by the Mayor and the County Judge. She serves on the Oakland Cemetery Preservation Committee of the Ouachita County Historical Society, and is a character twice a year in the Cemetery Walks. She is often photographed in her elaborate costumes, made by one of her daughters. School children are treated to her stories of “tales past” during the Camden Daffodil Festival, as well as when on school tours to the McCollum Chidester House, where she is a docent. When Octavia is not teaching history, she is involved in Garden Club projects, promoting Music Club opportunities and, during the summer months, teaching water aerobics in the city pool. She has served as state DAR Conservation Chair and is a Master Gardener, reflecting her interest to promote butterfly and bird friendly yards in her own landscaping. She has been involved in planting thousands of daffodil bulbs all over town.
Octavia is considered “ageless” to her many friends, and enjoys intergenerational friendships far and wide. To keep up with Octavia, one has to put on running shoes and be willing to get involved in a project. She puts her words into actions and motivates others to do the same.