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Memphis (now Rhodes College). Her uncle, John Kimbrough, had introduced Taylor to real estate during her pre-teen years.

“I went to work for my uncle in the summers when I was probably 12,” Taylor recalls. “He managed a lot of real estate investments. He trained me to be a bookkeeper, would you believe, at that tender age. I had to start collecting rents and keeping the books on rentals. I also worked in the office, answering the phone and such.”

After college, though, Fontaine got on with National Bank of Commerce (NBC) and encountered Mr. Blue Suede Shoes. “I started as a runner, went to the transit department, then became head teller in the drive-in, where I met Elvis,” she says. “Well, I had met him before many times—he would drive up and down the street, wave to us, stand out in front of his house—but he was one of NBC’s clients.”

Presley would drive into the multistory bank’s lower level to the window where Taylor worked, and the gate would close behind him, “so Elvis and I were locked in together,” she recalls. “He sat in the convertible, while his daddy would get out and do the banking. Well of course you know we talked. I would lock up my box and go chat with him a minute, and then close my accounts out. He would be there a few minutes.”

What was it like hanging out with Elvis? “Oh, he was very pleasant, we would just chat about life. Certainly I was in awe, but I was kind of shy in those days.” Commissioner Taylor still has a framed autograph from Elvis hanging on her wall.

Eventually Taylor moved on from banking, wed, began a family, and returned to her uncle’s real estate ventures. “And I’ve been in it for a long time now,” she says.

The projects varied, from commercial and residential to managing an apartment building. “When my uncle died, and then my aunt died, I started running the business full time,” Taylor says. “I did that for a long time until I sold it, then started doing renovations, bought homes and apartment buildings. I thought, As long as I’m doing this, I need to get a real estate license.”

As her career progressed, Taylor ran her brokerage until she became part of Crye-Leike in 2011. “Once I earned my license, from that year on, I joined the board, got on a committee, and was there consistently until probably four years ago, when I backed out a little bit,” Taylor says. The secret to her tenure of volunteer service sounds simple: “I always tried to sit back and listen and see what needed to be done, and then do it.”

As a REALTOR®, Commissioner Taylor’s accomplishments include NAR’s RPAC Hall of Fame (2011), TAR REALTOR® of the Year (2011), MAAR Outstanding Leadership award (2011), TAR Presidential Award (2007), MAAR Presidential Award (twice), MAAR REALTOR® of the Year (2002), and recognition from the Tennessee General Assembly and Memphis magazine, among others.

The numerous offices she has held include NAR Region 4 RPAC Trustee, NAR Director, TAR President (2009), MAAR President (2000), and President of the Tennessee Real Estate Education Foundation (TREEF).

Commissioner Taylor points out that the TREC and TAR didn’t get along for many years,” she says, with characteristic candor, “and I’m proud of being part of the reason they do now.”

What was the key? As a TAR leader, “I made an effort to see that happen,” Taylor says. “I drove up to Nashville and had breakfast with the then-head of TREC several times. I said, ‘We need to be on the same page,’ and it worked. TREC and TAR now have a great relationship. There were several others as well. I drove over and met with people, had lunch, and drove straight back home.”

Taylor sees parallels between her mediator role and her business. “The best way to get anything solved is to look at everybody’s point of view and work it out,” she says. “It’s the same if you’re writing an offer or accepting an offer. You should not be adversaries. You both want the same thing: for the house to sell. So we work it out.”

Commissioner Taylor believes in education and  holds 11 designations and certifications. “When I first got my license, within the first two years, I had earned the GRI, the CRS, the CRB,” she says. “I have always believed in education, and although I’m grandfathered, I still believe in it very strongly.”

Speaking of grandfathering: “I think it should end,” Taylor says, adding: “Some who have been in real estate the longest are the ones who need to refresh their memory.”

Taylor also believes licensing standards should be raised. “You can get a license and have never written a contract or have known the ins and outs of the contract,” she says. “I feel very strongly that even after you get your license, you should have a period of internship or other learning. I have seen so many new agents, and some older ones, you have to help write their offers and walk through it with them.”

She also emphasizes that TREC generally evaluates complaints without knowing who the participants are. “We listen and try to be very fair in making our judgments. The complaints go to staff who review them, and then to us. We never know who they’re from” (except in cases of live hearings in a dispute).

Taylor is the mother of three and has eight grandchildren ranging from preteen to mid-20s. Her son David lives in Alexandria, VA.; her son Kimbrough lives in Memphis; and her daughter Fontaine Brown also lives in Memphis, where she has followed her mother into real estate and is “a very good agent,” Taylor says. “She is the one of whom you would say, ‘She’s among the nicest people I’ve ever met.’

Taylor tries to bring the breadth of her experience to bear as part of TREC, along with a firm-yet-fair approach. “I was a broker for many years, and because my real estate career has been so varied, I try to sit and listen and think through things, but I also feel like people should be accountable for their actions or lack thereof.”

Commissioner Fontaine Taylor Tennessee Real Estate Commission

Commissioners Taylor’s family has played an influential role in Memphis and its development for several generations. “My grandfather, and my great-grandfather, were all in some form of real estate,” Taylor says.

The city’s Woodruff-Fontaine House (in which her father was born) is co-named for Taylor’s great-grandfather, Noland Fontaine, the French-Victorian mansion’s second owner. After the passing of Mr. Fontaine in 1912 and of his wife in 1928, the home was sold to become an antique shop; it later housed an art school and today is an exhibit center and event venue. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Commissioner Taylor attended St. Mary’s Episcopal School and graduated from the all-girls Hutchison prep before studying at Southwestern of



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