Second-grade teacher killed in crash remembered for her love of life
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ARCO — Family, friends, community members and students remember Rochelle Taylor as a person who touched the hearts of people and influenced countless lives during her own.
Taylor lived and taught school in Arco, but she spent the last two years of her life as a second-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary in Blackfoot.
The 54-year-old died April 18 in a head-on collision on the West Arco Highway/U.S. Highway 20 Saturday night.
“She spread love and happiness wherever she went, always put others before her own needs, constantly thinking of the next good thing to do to brighten someone’s day. We are trying to figure out how to move forward without her. She was our family glue. Truly the most Christlike person I will ever know,” Taylor’s sister DeAun Benson said in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s devastating to not be able to honor her the way she deserves, but we know how many lives she touched. She left a piece of her light with all of us.”
She leaves behind her husband, Richard, four children and a grandbaby.
Taylor was one of six second-grade teachers at Riverside Elementary and school principal Janae Peterson says she really made a difference.
“Mrs. Taylor loved her students. She was so caring. They definitely felt part of the classroom environment, she really added to that,” Petersen says. “They felt safe, comfortable and could come to her with any questions that they had.”
Gunner Scott was in Taylor’s class this year. When the school closed because of COVID-19, Taylor mailed Gunner a letter asking how he was doing. She also included a picture she drew for him of a monster truck.
“He loves monster trucks,” says Gunner’s mom, Amanda Scott. “That meant so much to him. We have it framed, and now it means even more because he’s got a piece of her.”
Taylor held Zoom meetings with Gunner where she’d help him with assignments since they couldn’t meet in the classroom. Gunner said she was the best teacher, and Scott said she knew she could always text Taylor for help.
“She was an angel on earth. She had a way about her with her students to make them feel special, every single one of them,” she said. “My boy, he loves school and he’s been wanting to go back to school. And now, he said, ‘I don’t want to go back to school, mom. It’s not going to be the same because I’m going to miss my teacher.'”
Taylor Mathis, a family friend, considered Taylor a second mom. She said she had the brightest smile and was kind to everyone.
“So many people in the valley saw Rochelle and Richard as parent figures,” Mathis said. “I went through a divorce and lost my baby last year, and Rochelle was a big support for me through that. She was an incredible person, so giving and caring, always excited about life and so fun to be around.”
Talisha Hansen, one of Taylor’s close friends, said she will never forget Taylor’s smile and how it extended to her eyes — even through pain.
“She was the most positive, happy person and even if things were not going how she planned, she figured out a way to make the most of it,” Hansen said. “Every person she met was important to her. She made every person she came in contact with feel accepted and loved. She lived great, and she died great in the eyes of God and her people.”
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