Mayoral candidate Kathy Taylor pauses the politics, opens up about life, upbringing

TULSA - For Taylor, the day begins early, always beginning with a cup of coffee delivered by her brother Jimmy, a deliverer with Proctor and Gamble.  

Taylor happens to be on his route.

Some mornings continue not too far from the coffee maker, where her cooking station sits, always ready for a cookbook recipe or her next baking adventure.

"Often in the morning or in the evening, I'll bake. My grandmother was a cook in a grade school cafeteria and also worked in a bakery," she said.

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When Taylor rattles off her list of baking specialties, which include brownies, pumpkin bread and banana bread, she makes sure to mention that list isn't the limit to her baking talents.

They are talents she learned with her grandmother, Myrtle, who she refers to as Mamaw.

"She taught when you go to someone's house, you take your plate to the sink, you make your bed. She really was -- you know -- you go to your grandma's house. It's always fun," Taylor said.

Though she lost her grandmother to cancer while in third grade, the impression Mamaw made on Taylor cannot be understated.

"When I go to events, really because of her, to honor her, when I go to events I leave through the kitchen as often as I can. Because, you know, you go to events, people serve you, you eat your food, you kind of have a festive -- and you don't notice all the work that goes into what was put on your plate," she said.

She calls Mamaw the original lunch lady. 

"She was the original lunch lady, literally, from Saturday Night Live. That was my grandmother, hair net and all," Taylor recalled.

In addition to drawing from her time at her grandmother's, it's easy for Taylor to see herself back in her parent's dry cleaning business in Oklahoma City, her hometown.

One of four children, it was Taylor's job to tag and pin the clothing as it came into the store. 

"We would go with our parents and we learned to take out the trash and balance the cash drawer and make the coffee and watch our parents at the end of the month see what revenue they took in to make sure that they could pay for our mortgage and car payment and food," she said.

Taylor says the work ethic and self-belief instilled by her parents is what ultimately allowed her to persevere and get herself through college and law school following their deaths.

Taylor lost her father to a diabetes a month after her 18th birthday. Her mother died on her 19th birthday, she says, from grief. 

"A pivotal moment in my life really to call upon the faith that my parents had instilled in me and hard work and belief in myself that I could, I could continue on," Taylor said. "So I was either going to have to give up or grow up and I grew up pretty quickly."

Taylor would take her talents to the private sector, leading corporations including the Oklahoma-based Sonic and Thrifty Car rental, before eventually becoming mayor in April 2006.

Taylor and her husband, Bill, have been married nearly 20 years. They have seven grandchildren, including one due in early a December. 

Taylor also has a daughter, Elizabeth.

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