Adrie was a 17-year-old freshman at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, when she more-or-less met Silas Taylor. Silas worked in the school cafeteria, and Adrie is fairly sure that she received an admiring glance or two and an occasional extra helping of mashed potatoes from the handsome jock behind the counter. But Adrie and Silas weren’t destined to connect, yet. Adrie married her high school sweetheart and Silas his college girlfriend, and the two went their separate ways. It was 38 years before their paths once again converged.
Adrie and Silas “officially” met while they were attending the same Central State homecoming weekend. Silas was recently retired from Michigan State where he had been a professor of Minority Affairs and had served as assistant basketball coach under Judd Heathcote. (He, in fact, helped recruit Magic Johnson to MSU!) Adrie had successfully raised five children and was living in Columbus, Ohio. Now both divorced, they found they enjoyed each other’s company a great deal.
After returning to their respective cities, Adrie and Silas talked on the phone. Many, many times. A year and thousands of dollars in telephone bills later, Adrie and Silas again met face-to- face. And in just a few months, they were married at center court of the Breslin Center, where Michigan State University basketball is played. Their wedding rings were inscribed with the words “God’s Gift,” and Adrie knew that was exactly what they were to each other.
Through Adrie, Silas inherited five children, 28 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild to add to his own daughter and grandson. Silas gave Adrie the support she needed to finish her nursing degree and earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State. In Adrie’s words, they shared a “fairy-tale life.”
The fairy tale life came with sacrifices. Just one year after marriage, Silas went into end- stage renal failure. Adrie donated one of her kidneys to him, and the couple enjoyed 9 more years together. Then Silas suffered a stroke. Although he successfully rallied, a second stroke followed, and Silas was just too tired to recover. In 2010, Silas said good- bye to his loved ones and slipped away.
But Silas’s story does not end there. He lives on through Adrie and their children, through the students he taught and the athletes he coached, and through the countless people he helped by donating his corneas to research. To so many, Silas was a precious gift, indeed.