When he was 6 years old, David Rozelle’s mother left him and his sister at an orphan home in Racine. What was supposed to be a temporary situation as his mother battled tuberculosis in a sanitarium turned into six years. But this isn’t the story of despair that you might expect – Rozelle recalls those years at the Taylor Home as some of the best of his difficult childhood.
The Taylor Orphan Asylum was founded in 1868 thanks to the generosity of lumberman Isaac Taylor. Taylor, an immigrant from England, was himself an orphan and when he died, he instructed his wife to set aside money for the construction of a home for children. He hoped to provide a place of comfort
“He wanted to create a home that would be a comfort to children,” says Rozelle.
By the time Rozelle and his sister arrived in 1944, the home had been renamed the Taylor Children’s Home.
Rozelle didn’t understand what was happening when his mother dropped him off, only that he was being separated from his mother.
“This had happened a number of other times,” says Rozelle. “Throughout her life she was unstable, she was an alcoholic, and I now understand that she was mentally ill.”
Rozelle and his sister still saw their mother from time to time but they never returned to her full-time again. Eventually, he joined his sister at a foster home in Union Grove. Rozelle’s mother died in her early 50s, alone and poor.
“She had what I would call a tragic end,” says Rozelle.
Despite the sadness he felt at being away from his mother, Rozelle says he came to love the Taylor Home and his time there.
“This home represented sanctuary,” says Rozelle. “It represented regularity. Everything that I believe a child needs”.