Stephen L. Taylor takes some of his philosophy from the Boy Scouts that mandate members to do their best for God and country.
But he also draws on the motto of the Jaycees.
“The last part of their creed is that service to humanity is the best work of life,” said the Mizzou graduate who has spent 68 of his 74 years in Sikeston. “I think I’ve tried to live by those two phrases and the creeds of those two organizations.”
A former captain in the Army, Taylor worked in the JAG office before becoming a prosecuting attorney in Scott County. Later, he’d do defense work in private practice, a switch that moved him more in the direction of workers compensation law which became his focus as a special assistant attorney general. He’s been doing it ever since.
Now at Burns Taylor Heckemeyer Green & Edwards, which he joined in 1987, he has deep roots in his community having been president of the Sikeston Jaycees, commissioner of the town’s Little League Football. American Legion Baseball and the local Lion’s Club. A former chairman of the Okeechobee District Boy Scouts of America and commissioner for its SEMO Council, he also won the organization’s coveted Silver Beaver Award in 1990.
Taylor has also been honored by the Sikeston Jaycees and by the town’s Chamber of Commerce as Sikeston’s Man of the Year. Lions’ International Foundation recognized him with its Melvin Jones Fellow Award in 2001.
In the legal universe, he’s served on the Board of Governors of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys and been a discipline hearing officer for the state bar.
But it isn’t about awards or honors. Taylor makes clear he went to law school because he wanted to do something to serve others.
“From the get-go, I’ve always had the ambition to help people,” he said. “I feel like it’s a joy to go to work every day to be able to help other folks, so that’s what I focused on.”
He also focuses on what he calls “the four Fs” — faith, family, friendship and fairness for all.
His nominator makes clear that Taylor has been viewed as an icon in the Sikeston community his whole life.
“Whenever the Sikeston Community wants something good done for the community, Steve is one of the first persons you call,” they wrote. “You don’t become chairman and president of so many worthwhile organizations unless you are a true ‘icon.’”
Taylor himself puts it more simply. He enjoys his work and the interactions it allows him to have with others.
“In any career, enjoy what you are doing or change fields,” he said.