Sherwood Taylor, a longtime Hartford resident who was attempting to overcome 50 years of addiction to heroin, died earlier this month of causes unrelated to drug overdose. He was just shy of 76 years old.
WNPR profiled Taylor earlier this year.
Only days before, Taylor appeared as a guest speaker at a overdose prevention conference in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
“What lessons did I learn? Don’t start," Taylor said during his speech. "That’s the first one. Because whether it’s up your nose, in your arm, in your veins, or anything -- that’s the shortest answer I can get, don’t start.”
Taylor was born in Hartford in 1940. Known as “Pops” to his friends and neighbors, he lived in an apartment in the Frog Hollow neighborhood of Hartford for the last two decades. He was open to sharing stories about his life on the streets as a heroin user. But his reputation in Hartford wasn’t defined by that alone.
Taylor liked listening to music and watching sports, and he had a passion for playing chess. His friends say he was kind and generous.
Watch Taylor reflect on his life in WNPR's video below.
Taylor’s close friend, community organizer Mark Jenkins, said that when Taylor spoke, people listened.
“Just something about him that just endeared you to him," Jenkins said. "He was a wealth of information. You know he had experienced things. He knew of things when they were.”
Jenkins was at that recent overdose prevention conference. He said the respect for Taylor's experience was palpable.
“You could hear -- I don’t even want to say a pin drop, you could hear a leaf wafer through the air," Jenkins said.
There will be a memorial service for Taylor in his old neighborhood on Tuesday, November 22 at the Studio at Billings Forge in Hartford from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm.
WNPR’s Opioid Addiction Crisis Reporting Initiative is supported by Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network’s MATCH Program.