EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE: The Color Keeper

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A young man in Wilmington is intrigued by cemeteries. Specifically, Oakdale Cemetery. He’s not alone. But it is what he is doing all year long that caught our attention. Tab Taylor is keeping a part of history alive and it all started with a book.

“My mom and I read the graveyard book when I was a kid,” Tab Taylor told Daniel Seamans. “I had gotten interested in graveyards and cemeteries,” he continued.

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This is a story of compassion.

“And Ruth Shaw,” Tab explained, “you can see in all the other graves that they had been taken well care of, but this is what Ruth Shaw’s grave looked like before we came here.”

In 4th grade, Tab Taylor chose Oakdale Cemetery for his class project.
The project involved numerous pictures of various graves and the storylines behind them.



“And then I also have some interesting stories,” Tab said with the book open to examples, “like this is a firefighter who died fighting fire with his dog. His dog came in to save him but failed.”

Page after page of history in his book. But there was one page he just couldn’t turn.

“I was interested in all the graves, or course,” Tab said, “but Ruth’s grave was kind of unkempt. David Brinkley and Arthur Bluethenthal, they were kept up nice.”

Ruth Shaw’s grave. A woman credited with introducing the world, to finger painting.

“I looked into it and found out that her grave was, like, she didn’t have any family taking care of it so it needed to be adopted so I adopted it and have been taking care of it ever since,” he said.

At least once a month Tab will pay a visit to this one spot to add a little color.

“We planted 3 plants,” he said, “one of them a seasonal, not up right now, we basically water them, clean the grave, trim the weeds and grass.”

It’s a simple gesture that has a worldly connection. “She invented finger painting,” Tab said, “basically every kid into the world has at some time, so it’s sad that an invention and innovator has just been forgotten.”

But she’s not. An artist whose world faded into black and white now sees pinks and yellows and blues thanks to Tab.

You’ve become quite the Color Keeper, Tab Taylor. That makes you, Extraordinary.

Sidenote: Tab isn’t done yet. He says he may be adding concrete steps to Ruth’s gravesite as a future project.

Keep it up kiddo!
-Daniel