I’m Cathy’s brother and the proud uncle of Alex, Chase, and Nolan. On behalf of the Taylors, I want to extend a huge thanks to the so many of you that have shown us all so much love and support. This family is truly blessed by all of you as they work through this difficult time.
Early Tuesday, we learned that Chase had passed in an early morning accident. I am certain all of you felt the same as I did when hearing the news: shock, hurt, an incredibly heavy heart along with an unexplainable feeling of grief. We could not wrap our minds around it. This can’t and should not happen. We all had similar feelings. My family, as did many of you, gathered ourselves and quickly as possible made our way to Beaumont to Rick and Cathy’s home. We hugged, cried, asked why, asked how, spoke to so many on the phone who were all feeling the same way. We all were dealing with the painful emotions of Chase’s passing and just asking, “What the heck is going on? This cannot be.”
As I visited with folks coming and going, and standing around overhearing all the conversations, an amazing thing began to happen. Tears were turning into laughter. The cries and the pain were being pushed aside and replaced with so many wonderful stories and discussions about Chase. Stories of so many funny memories were recalled. I don’t know how many times I heard, “Yep, that’s Chase!” Then the pictures came out, and of course there were still a few wet eyes as we all looked through the pictures and remembered the many fun times and so many accounts of that little red headed boy that had made us all laugh. He was a solo entertainment show from the time he could barely walk. Over the years, I can’t tell you have many times I heard Cathy say something like, “My Lord, what’s that boy doing now? He would always have that look. You know, “the smile.” And you know that look a puppy has when he just ate a stuffed animal and all you see is the stuffing all over the puppy’s face, but no toy to be seen anywhere. That was the look Chase had, he would have that big old smile as if to say, “What? What did I do?” Oh, that smile…
As we all sat around the table looking through the pictures, the feeling of sadness turned into remembering the joy Chase brought to all of us. As we all know, anyone who knows Chase has a story to tell about some crazy bonehead thing he has done and made everyone laugh. Those pictures began bringing out those stories. As the pictures kept coming out, the next thing you know, everyone had the same big smile on their face. The same smile that Chase always has. I remember Alex picking up a picture and saying, “That is definitely Chase.” I looked at it and cracked up. He was probably 8 or 9, and he was standing on his dresser with his butt facing the camera, bending down and looking at everyone between his legs. The picture showed a couple of cousins standing there laughing, but I’m sure the room was full of his cousins, and there he was performing as usual. Yep, that’s Chase!
For me, the pictures brought back memories of vacations, holidays, trips, and the time our families shared together. All the cousins were about the same age, and we spent a lot of time together. I remember Cathy and Rick coming to see us in California, and we went to San Francisco Pier 21. We bought all the kids some ice cream. They were all sitting on brick ledge that had a pretty scenic background, and she wanted a serious picture with all the kids. Chase was not having any part of a serious picture. He had ice cream all over his face and was instigating the rest of the kids to do this same. Once, I momentarily went insane and took all the cousins camping by myself. Those kids had a great time, but I was wore out! And mister ring leader kept things interesting. He was not disrespectful, but just high maintenance and always having fun. He always had a great smile on his face. I cannot ever remember not seeing that smile. Whenever he walked in the room, there was the smile, and he was cutting up with someone making them laugh. It was infectious and it made an impact you.
The little red-headed class-clown grew up to be quite the young man, maturing and growing into a man that was proud and respectful. That serious side of him was evident, but it never took away his ability to keep things light and make others laugh. He had dreams and was making a splash into the world. I had a great experience with Chase this past May when he and I rode together from Houston to San Antonio for his cousin’s graduation. It was just us two, and we were no longer talking about baseball or soccer as we had in years past, but we were talking about his life and future, and the focus he had was impressive. He had applied for a job at Chevron Phillips in Port Arthur and went through the interviewing process. The selection process had been going very slow. Over the past weeks, he had no idea if he was going to get the job. His mom and dad were really hoping he would, and his mom expressed concern about the time it seemed to be taking for him to hear whether he was selected. I know in talking to his mother, her nervousness was because she felt the longer it went, the less likely he would get it. During this drive, he shared with me that he had something that was going to make his mom and dad very happy. He showed me a letter he had recently received indicating he had been selected for the Chevron job, and he was keeping it a secret from them so he could show his mom the letter on Mother’s Day, which was the next day. He was so proud to have gotten that job and wanted so much for his mom to read the letter. He was genuinely concerned about how much his mom was worrying about him. He was so excited to show her this letter. I had a great talk with Chase that day as we drove to San Antonio and was really impressed with the adult Chase I was talking to. He was no longer the little red-headed comedian that always made me laugh.
As we kept talking, he shared with me how getting an instrumentation degree from LIT helped him get his new job. He then talked about why he continued at Lamar working toward a bachelor’s degree and how that would help him later in his career. I was so comforted and proud to know that he really had his sights fixed on a goal; he had a plan. Recently talking with Alex, I asked her, “What is the big take away you have regarding your brother? Other than making you laugh all the time, what is Chase all about?” You can read Alex’s response here.
Not only did Chase have significant relationships with his family, but this also applied to Chase’s many friends. As Alex eluded to, a huge part of Chase’s life was spent on a baseball or soccer field. He established lifelong friendships with coaches and teammates. The influence these people and experiences had on Chase were significant, but as I have confirmed through recent conversations, the impact Chase had on these folks is even more impressive. He was a competitor who respected all those he played with and against. Coaches have expressed how wonderful a kid he was to work with. Teammates talk about how great it was to spend so much time with him on and off the field.
As Chase grew older and moved on to college, as he always has, he established new, strong bonds with people including his fraternity brothers. Chase’s personality attracted all types of people. He did not care who you were or where you were from; he gave all the same care and respect, which evolved into incredible friendships. Many of these friends were flowing through the Taylor home this week, and as I sat there and listened, there was one commonality about those moments. They would walk in with tears and a heavy heart, but this slowly turned to laughter and cheer as they began recounting stories of Chase. We all heard story after story, with most somehow having Chase in the middle of some joke he was playing on someone or dealing with some mess he created for himself. These friends’ love and admiration for Chase is so evident by how they revered him. I know how I felt about Chase as his uncle, but this week I was uplifted to see so many people who truly cared about him and loved him. This does not happen by chance; Chase earned this by first giving the same care and love to others he was around. He may pick and play jokes on you, but you knew he cared about you, and there was a bond.
Chase has truly left an impression on all that knew him. He had a genuine charisma that just naturally captured a room and placed everyone at ease. He made you just want to be around him. I know we are all going to struggle as we grieve the physical loss of Chase from this unfortunate accident. There is no more evidence of this than a discussion I had with Nolan late a couple nights ago. He told me something that, through the lump in my throat, I was still able to chuckle, because it was such a brother relationship comment. Nolan said, “Even though Chase was a jerk to me most of time, I knew he loved me and he was always helping me to become a better man. Chase wanted me to maximize my potential and was the best big brother I could have asked for. Yeah, sometimes he was tough on me, but I love him for all he did.” Nolan shared a lot that night that convinced me just how much of a positive impact Chase had on him.
Nolan, I encourage you as well as Alex, Cathy, and Rick, and everyone here. Don’t let this wear you down. Chase will always be here in our hearts because you cannot forget him. As we all know, if you knew him, he is now a part of you. You cannot escape it…
In talking with Rick [Chase’s dad] a couple of evenings ago, he shared how touching it was that so many people have reached out to him. Several have said, “I cannot believe this and don’t know what to do or say.” Rick profoundly told them, “Just smile and keep laughing because Chase is smiling and laughing with you.” You must admit, you can’t think about Chase Taylor without ending up with a smile on your face.