PADUCAH, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2015) — William Gene “Bill” Taylor, one of Big O Tires' original franchisees and a member of the Big O Tires Hall of Fame, died Oct. 14 at age 77 at his home on Kentucky Lake near Paducah after a short illness.
Mr. Taylor began his tire industry career with O.K. Rubber Welders, the predecessor to Big O Tires, in Louisville, Ky., in the 1950s as a 21-year-old tire technician.
At age 23, Mr. Taylor transitioned to being the owner of the store and shortly thereafter advanced to regional vice president of the Kentuckiana franchise group — owning and operating 20 Big O Tires locations with his business partner and fellow Hall of Fame member, Dohn Graham.
He was inducted into the Big O Hall of Fame in 1997, singled out for his “selfless dedication, keen business sense and a flair for marketing and advertising,” according to his online biography.
He also helped develop a credit company in the early 1980s owned by the franchisees in his region that offered six months same as cash. Big O still adheres by this policy, according to his biography.
Mr. Taylor was an honorary Kentucky Colonel — part of a brotherhood of individuals who reach out to educate and care for children, provide support to those in need and preserve Kentucky's rich heritage.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Freda Elizabeth Taylor (nee Holloway); brother David (Barbara) Taylor; daughters Treva Taylor, Diana (Chris) Thiel and Lisa (Craig) Burkhead; five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.