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Before Clarence Taylor embarked on a successful career in the Air Force and as a Chick-fil-A owner, he was a star student-athlete at Washburn. Hear more about his story on YouTube.Watch the video
By Ernie W. Webb III | email@example.com
In a life and career featuring a plethora of highlights, Clarence Taylor Jr., bba ’78, points to a class at Washburn University as a defining moment.
Struggling in a Business Law class, Taylor went to the professor for help. The advice he received that day – to move from the back of the class to the front row – was simple, but critical.
“I moved to the front row, then went to a couple of guys in my dorm who knew the subject and got help,” said Taylor, the guest speaker at Thursday’s Wake Up With Washburn. “I got through the class, and that always stayed with me.”
Taylor, a retired Air Force colonel and currently owner of the Chick-fil-A at Oak Park Plaza in Overland Park, Kan., remembered that moment when he embarked on a career in the military. During training at the Air Force, he realized he wasn’t sitting at the front of the class.
“We had a break, and I said I better get to the front row,” he said. “I took somebody’s seat during the break and stayed in the front row!
“My Ichabod education served me well during that time. There were people from all over the country, from the Air Force Academy, Notre Dame. Four of us from Washburn were there. Thirty-five percent of the people there did not get through. All four us from Washburn made it. Again, that Ichabod education comes through.”
Taylor, Shawnee, Kan., retired in 2007 as professor of Aerospace Studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C., after 29 years in the Air Force. During his service, he was a master navigator and electronic warfare officer, accumulating nearly 2,500 hours in the B-1, B-52H and B-52G bomber aircraft.
His accolades include the defense superior service medal, legion of merit with one oak leaf cluster, meritorious service medal with three oak leaf clusters and several other honors.
“When I retired, I had to think about what I wanted to do next,” Taylor said. “During that process, I knew I needed to make a quality of life decision, that character has to rule the day. That’s how I ended up with Chick-fil-A.”
The restaurant has become a family business for the Taylors, many of whom work for the man known as “CT.”
“It is a family business and I love them to death, but they have results to achieve,” Taylor said jokingly of his family, many of whom attended the presentation. “We’ve tried to create a sense of community at work, a sense of family. That’s Chick-fil-A.”
Taylor, a football star at Washburn who still holds several kick return records, spent the day on campus, meeting with students in the classroom after the breakfast lecture.
Wake Up With Washburn continues Nov. 1 with Golf Digest’s Ron Whitten, jd ’77. For more information about the event, visit the Wake Up page.