Hopewell couple named deaf parents of the year
From: Hopewell News, VA - Aug 17, 2004
By MARK DORROH
Members of the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Association of the Deaf named Billy Taylor Sr., Deaf Father of the Year and his wife Deanna, Deaf Mother of the Year, during a recent ceremony at Dockside restaurant in Prince George. It's the first time in the history of the VAD that a husband and wife team has been named Mother and Father of the Year.
Billy and Deanna live in Hopewell and have been married since 1962. Their award came in recognition of their role model status as parents and deaf Americans, serving the interests of the hearing-impaired community of Virginia while rearing six children, two hearing, four deaf.
Deanna is retired from her job as a procurement clerk with Defense General Supply and is the current Richmond Chapter VAD vice president and the newsletter editor for the Richmond Club for the Deaf. She also has spent considerable time and effort establishing a home for deaf senior citizens in the greater Richmond Metro area. In between those volunteer activities, she manages to find time for her hobbies of travel and fishing.
Billy spent most of his working career in printed communications. Upon graduation from the Virginia School for the Deaf in Staunton in 1955, he became the owner of a shoe repair shop in Ashland. After some years, he switched careers, becoming a Linotype operator at The Hopewell News in 1960 and later for the Washington Post. He returned to the greater Richmond Metro area from Washington after 25 years and spent his last 17 full-time working years as an Optical Character Reader machinist for the Richmond Post Office.
His volunteer activities are many and varied: He is a past president and board member of the Greater Richmond Virginia Association of the Deaf and board member of the Richmond Club for the Deaf, as well as board member of the Virginia School For the Deaf Alumni Association. His leisure time activities include woodworking, photography, computers and collecting old pictures.
At Friday's awards banquet, Chapter President Allen Justice signed the text of the award while the Taylor's son, Billy Jr., performed the voice translation.
Billy Jr. and his wife live in Prince George while daughter Lily Mountjoy lives in Hopewell and daughter Karen Taylor lives in Richmond. Their daughter Hedy lives in Texas but currently is staying in Hopewell and the family's two youngest sons, Ricky and Gary, live in New York and Florida respectively.
Deanna was born deaf and Billy Sr. became deaf at the age of 2 after a bout of spinal meningitis. Billy Jr. said until he was 5, he thought everybody's parents were deaf. "So far as I was concerned, my growing up was normal," he explained. "Everybody I knew was deaf except my sister Karen."
Despite attending special schools, Billy Junior's brothers and sisters managed to remain in more or less constant touch with each other, which was possible because of changes made in how deaf schools are administrated.
"When my father was off at school during World War II, he'd only get home for holidays and summers," said Billy Jr. "But when we were growing up, my siblings came home every weekend."
Asked about developments in restoration of hearing through cochlear implants, Deanna and Billy Sr. come down firmly on the side of deaf culture. "I'm opposed to the implants," signed Billy Sr. "Any operation or implant has the potential for damage to the body."
Deanna signed, "I'm the way God made me, deaf, and I feel I should be proud of what I am."
Billy Jr. simply said he wouldn't change anything about his family. "If you've never heard a bird sing, you can't miss it," he said. "My father had his hearing and lost it, but he's still proud of being deaf."
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