Pictured: The late Dessie Taylor. Photo courtesy of Taylor.
By Klarke Stricklen
For many students, Green’s View Grill is simply the newest addition to Sewanee’s small restaurant pool. What many fail to see is the history that resides in the menu itself. If you happen to take a glance at the menu, then you should notice a specialty burger called the “Miss Dessie.” The burger pays tribute to beloved community member Dessie Taylor, the former head grill cook to the golf shop.
The shop was one of the best hangout spots on the Domain for many students, faculty, and community members in the early 80s. The shop provided breakfast for the facility crews on their morning break and the best burgers in town for anyone in the community.
“Students knew that was the place to get a great burger and fries,” said Eric Benjamin (C’73), Sewanee Alumni and Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Beyond the great food and fellowship that the shop provided was the true star of the show, Taylor. Taylor not only provided the shop with its legendary burgers, but the constant presence of a community leader.
“I believe that many of my best friends would agree that when we walked through those doors at the golf shop,” said Dean of Students Marichal Gentry (C’86), “we’d be greeted with a smile.”
If you were to ask any faculty or former students who had the privilege of knowing Taylor, they would tell you that her presence in the golf shop was only minor compared to the love and compassion she shared throughout the campus.
“I knew Dessie through the church Otey Parish,” said former classics professors Doug Seiters. “We served on committees together, taught Sunday school together, and were constantly thrown together in many community projects.”
Apart from her work with Otey Parish, Taylor frequently aided her community through work with the ill and elderly around the surrounding community as well as providing her home as a safe space for students around campus. Oftentimes inviting them to dinner at her home or just small get-togethers filled with laughter and joy.
“Everything she did, as far as I’m concerned, she did with love,” said Gentry. “That’s how I always experienced Miss Dessie.”
After hearing countless stories about Miss Dessie and her impact on the community, The Purple set out to explore additional ways to commemorate a true community leader. We had the chance to speak with Michael Beutel, General Manager of the Green’s View Grill, to see how they intend to keep Taylor’s legacy alive.
“We hope by keeping Miss Dessie’s name on the menu, that her legacy will live on for a new generation of Sewanee students,” said Beutel. “I would certainly be open to any suggestions that might help us raise awareness.”
The stories of Taylor and her work throughout the community continue to live on today. She was simply not just a cook at the golf shop, but a beloved leader who loved her community like family.