MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lisa Taylor had worked 14 years as a florist at the same family-owned shop in Memphis, Tennessee, when she left in October to start a new career at the airport with the Transportation Security Administration. Co-workers at Rachel’s Flowers congratulated her with balloons on a sign that read, “Good Luck, Lisa.”
Taylor, 54, stayed in touch with her friends at the flower shop, making plans to return part-time over the holidays to make some extra money. Then the phone rang Saturday, just as the power came back on at the shop after violent storms passed through overnight. Taylor’s longtime boyfriend was calling with tragic news. A large tree had fallen through her roof overnight, killing Taylor as she slept in bed.
“She had just gotten started on her new adventure and she’s just been taken,” said Angie Morton, who worked as a florist alongside Taylor for several years.
A single mother of two children now in their 20s, Taylor took her new government job for higher wages and the extra stability that came with health insurance and other benefits, friends said.
But she had a creative spark that made her a natural when it came to working with flowers, Morton said, whether she was helping grieving families design funeral arrangements or using bits and pieces of broken, castoff jewelry to add some custom sparkle to high school girls’ prom corsages.
“She really liked to bling everything up,” Morton said. “She would take stuff other people would throw in the trash and make beautiful things out of it. If she found an earring in a store that didn’t have a matching pair, she would think, ‘I know there’s somebody who that would be perfect for her corsage.’”
Charles Newell, deputy emergency management administrator for Shelby County, Tennessee, said she was the only known storm death in the county that includes Memphis.
Rachel Greer, the flower shop’s owner, was helping plan floral arrangements for Taylor’s funeral. She said Taylor’s daughter had requested “a sea of purple flowers” such as lavender roses and chrysanthemums to match her mother’s favorite color.
Meanwhile customers were dropping by the shop to offer condolences and leaving notes. One of them read: “Lisa was a light in a dark world.”