George Taliaferro. Photos by Tom Stio

by Renée A. Taliaferro Buckner

While I consider Baltimore, Maryland, my childhood home, I was born in Los Angeles, where my father, George Taliaferro, was a member of the Los Angeles Dons. As a family, we moved to Baltimore, where my two younger sisters were born and Daddy continued his professional football career with the then-Baltimore Colts. 

We lived in Maryland until my father was offered a position at Indiana University in 1972 as special assistant to the president. Until we moved to Bloomington, I don’t think I or any of my sisters were aware of what Daddy had achieved through athletics. Our home in Maryland was full of music, books, and loads of visitors. Wilma Rudolph, the track star; Sonny Liston; Lenny Moore; Gale Sayers; and multiple other stars were guests in our home, and, as young children, we were cautioned to be polite and quiet. Again, they were just friends of our parents and we were oblivious to their fame. 

Renée A. Taliaferro Buckner. Photo by Malcolm Abrams

Our father was not the typical prototype of a dad when it came to time spent with us. My older sister Linda and I learned to ice skate on the frozen pond at the local golf course, and during the summer months we sipped lemonade at the bar in the clubhouse while Daddy played nine holes. He taught us to swim, coached us in track, and made the best buttermilk biscuits you ever tasted.

I transferred as a sophomore to Indiana University when we moved to Bloomington and the shock of moving to a small college town from the urban environment that I had grown up in was heightened by the massive amount of publicity surrounding the return of George Taliaferro. It seemed that everyone knew who my father was, from students and faculty to the ladies working in the cafeteria in my dormitory. But when I went home to do laundry, eat, and spend time with my family, that notoriety was not present. Even as we entertained recruits and hosted famed musicians and a host of celebrities who visited Indiana University, the full spectrum of what Dad and Mom [Judge Vi Taliaferro] had achieved was not the highlight of our home life—my sisters and I were.

The morning after Daddy passed, I awoke to a segment on the local NPR station announcing that George Taliaferro had died at the age of 91. I was puzzled as to how that would make national news and that was the beginning of an incredible amount of news coverage that has culminated with the unveiling of a statue and the renaming of the plaza at the north entrance to the Indiana University football stadium in his honor. My sisters and our biological and Bloomington family and friends were present at this amazing event. We have been honored to accept multiple awards in our father’s name, but as we have moved forward after his death, we are reminded that to the world he was George Taliaferro. To us, he was simply Daddy.