I’m not altogether sure when I first met Denvil Taylor. It seems he was just always there.
He was the kind of man worthy of great fame. He was a faithful friend to everyone. He was a larger-than-life hero to young gospel preachers starting out in ministry in southeastern Kentucky. He was of keen intellect and sharp wit. And, worthy of note in rural Kentucky, he was quite the accomplished bird hunter.
If you’ve never heard of him, it’s because he was comfortable simply being a rural pastor quietly going about the Lord’s work in the Barbourville area. He never sought prosperity, promotions, plaudits nor popularity. Yet, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone held in higher esteem than this good man.
Denvil closed his eyes on this side of eternity early Sunday morning. It was altogether unexpected. A heart attack at 72. He’s going to be sorely missed.
Denvil came up with a simple yet ingenious plan to share the gospel: He got himself a good set of hair clippers and a King James Bible. And for decade after decade, he worked as a barber and a pastor, two very different professions that he melded into a very successful ministry.
With those two simple tools he touched thousands of lives.
Many of the people who got haircuts in his barbershop ended up coming to his church. Denvil was such an incredibly likeable guy, a man given to hospitality who was so much fun to be around.
As word of his passing spread, heartwarming tributes started popping up on social media.
“There will never be another like you, Denvil Taylor,” wrote Ashley Simpson on Facebook. “You will never be forgotten.”
That’s for sure.
Sharron Oxendine, who rose through the teaching ranks to become president of the Kentucky Education Association for two terms, was among the first to offer condolences.
“I am beyond heartbroken,” she wrote. “Rest easy sweet, gentle soul. Your earthly robe has been shed and you’re walking the streets of gold.”
University of Kentucky communications consultant Beth Goins knew Denvil as her childhood pastor. She noted how he was “always there in times of need and in times of celebration,” how he “ministered every day to everyone with whom he crossed paths,” and how he “dedicated his life to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“It seems fitting,” she said, “that he went home on a Sunday morning. But, oh, how he will be missed.”
Dave Diamond of Barbourville called Denvil “a spiritual giant,” describing him as “one of the kindest, most loving men I ever have known.”
Perhaps Pete Grubb’s Facebook post Sunday evening put things in proper perspective when he wrote: “My friend Rev. Denvil Taylor finally made it home today.”
Those who knew Denvil can envision the Lord putting an arm around his shoulders and welcoming him to heaven.
Certainly, we’re going to miss this man who was always there for us. But we will always remember how blessed beyond measure we were to have known him at all.