Well-known musician, mentor, and community activist Hosea Taylor Jr. passed away over the weekend, at the age of 67.
Taylor had been a native of Pittsburgh, and a graduate of Wilberforce College.
He was also the son of the late jazz saxophonist Hosea Taylor Sr., who played with the likes of such jazz greats as Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
Taylor moved to Rochester in the early 1970s, and worked as a mentor with Action for a Better Community. He was also a civil rights activist in the community, and an informal mentor to many youth.
“Hosea was a man who loved people,” Jahaka Mindstorm, a friend of Taylor’s for 36 years, stated. “From the time he first came to Rochester, there was no limit to what he would give. He gave free music, and martial arts lessons. He would give people in need whatever he had really, down to his last dollar.”
According to Mindstorm, as a young man, Hosea had been intimately involved with martial arts, working as an instructor with the Purple Dragon Dojo on Rochester’s west side, and later founding the Sphinx Martial Arts School, which operated from a main facility downtown. But, he also had outreach classes, free of charge to youth at various schools and recreation centers, including Flint Street, Carter Street, the Montgomery Center, the Boys & Girls Club, and the North Street Recreation Center (now the Gantt Center).
“He was extraordinary,” Mindstorm stated. “He was extremely knowledgeable, but not at all condescending, or arrogant. He would talk to anyone, whether it was a national politician, or a homeless person in the street. He was a great man, and his presence is going to be missed. Especially for me, because our relationship spanned 36 years. And, for that time, he went from being a teacher, to a mentor, to a brother, and a friend. So, it’s almost like I feel I’ve lost more than one person, but a person who played multiple roles in my life.”
Taylor had also become well known among many city residents as a vendor of oils, incense, and a relaxed fit clothing line. He had virtually been a city landmark at Midtown Plaza, where, each day, he plied his wares, and did his own unique brand of outreach within the city.
According to Rasta Von, another friend of Taylor’s, ultimately, Taylor had become a pillar in the community.
“He was just like a mentor to the community,” Von stated. “He was like a pillar to the community. He was always playing music. Every day, he went out, and played. Even if he didn’t make any money, he still went out, and played music. He always had a kind word for everybody, and he always inspired other artists to go after their dreams, and reach their goals.”
Hosea was a member of the board of directors for the Southwest Area Neighborhoods (SWAN) for many years, and had also been instrumental in the assemblage, recruitment, and scheduling for the SWAN Community Band. In recent years, he had also been a fixture at the Rochester Public Market, the Hungerford, and had played as a solo musician in downtown Rochester.
Between his martial arts school and music lessons, Taylor directly touched the lives of hundreds of Rochester youth, and indirectly the lives of thousands more.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/charlestonhouserestaurant/posts/351378538319692 to find out ways to honor Taylor, or to contribute to fundraising efforts for his funeral.
Friends and family of Taylor have also set up a GoFundMe page, at https://www.gofundme.com/6enrg8ec, to help with funeral costs.
A viewing will be held Friday, Feb. 19, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Taylor’s funeral service will be held Saturday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m, in the Cathedral of Hope Community Church, 1089 Joseph Ave. Private interment will be at White Haven Memorial Park.