HOUSTON – Back in June, KHOU 11 News introduced you to Rudolph Taylor, a 60-year old homeless man who formed a relationship with Houston police officers.
Taylor is often referred to as simply, “The Painter.” His self-taught talent is used to create custom artwork for HPD officers and his neighbors in the Acres Home community in north Houston.
Taylor has been homeless for more than 30 years. The money earned from selling his artwork is used to pay for food and the occasional cigar.
“God gave me vivid imagination,” Taylor said as he faced his hand-me-down easel that stood inside a shack in north Houston. “You always want something you lose.”
At 60-years old, Taylor had made peace with his life. He’s been homeless for half of it. He’s a military veteran who served time in prison for the death of his brother.
“I have to deal with the bitterness of the loss and the anguish,” pain that still lingers decades after a separation with his family. The divide happened more than 37 years ago, before the birth of his second son.
Taylor has stuck to a rigid routine in recent years. He’s up with the sun, walks a few blocks through Acres Homes to a corner store.
He earns a couple dozen bucks a week selling his artwork. A few dollars cover food, a cup of coffee and a cigar. He’ll return to an abandoned welding shed that’s now his art studio, and paint.
His heart pours onto canvas. Taylor is a self-taught artist. Painting is his only constant.
Thousands of KHOU 11 News viewers were touched by that initial news report on Taylor and his friendship with police. The story and social media posts surrounding Taylor were viewed and shared thousands of times.
In late July, Houston Police received an unusual call from a man in Boulder, Colo.
“I think you know my father,” the man at the other of the end of phone told police.
HPD Capt. Larry Baimbridge took down the caller’s information and verified the details.
“And, I was pretty certain it was him,” said Kevin Taylor as he described watching the KHOU 11 News report that featured his father. “It was just always something in me to want to know who my father is.”
Kevin is Rudolph Taylor’s second son. As a child, Kevin knew few details about his biological father. However, they did meet briefly when Kevin was 3.
But, he and his family moved and lived in Colorado. At 8-years old he learned his father lived in Houston. That’s when the search for dad began.
For years, Kevin would pick up phone books and write letters to anyone who shared his last name. Often times, the letters were returned or never answered.
A few years ago, a lone photo of his father surfaced. That compelled Kevin to write one more letter. It was a personal invitation to his U.S. Marine Corps graduation. That letter was returned.
Crushed, but still with hope, his handwritten quest morphed into an intense online search, which eventually led to Kevin finding and watching a video link shared by KHOU.com on Facebook. He couldn’t call Houston police fast enough.
“I said, I saw a story. And it had Capt. Baimbridge in it, and I believe the man that’s in the video is my father. And, somebody get back to me,” Kevin said.
Baimbridge returned to the call, and a couple weeks later, in an unmarked patrol car, Baimbridge escorted Kevin to that shack in Acres Home. The front passenger car door opened, and within an instant, father and son locked eyes.
The search was over.
If you've ever searched for a long lost family member, you know it can be difficult.
But, the Salvation Army tries to help re-connect families with lost loved ones.