Taggart Fuller Dertinger
Cinco de Mayo, 1985, Tag was born in Bend, Oregon. He was the second of two children. His older sister, Leanna, being born 18 months earlier. The family was active in many outdoor activities and Tag soon got involved in baseball, soccer, BMX bike racing, and wrestling. As he aged, some of the earlier sports fell by the wayside and he pursued board sports. Soccer, however, remained as the primary sport. Tag played on several teams and with the same players for many years. One of these teams won a regional tournament and went to San Diego to represent the Northwest in a national event. In Junior High Tag moved into the goalie position and went on to play for Mt. View High School. His Senior Year, they made the semi-finals in state.
His Junior and High School years were not without some challenges. Tag found himself using Alcohol and Marijuana. As the usage grew he and his parents realized that they all needed to find some programs to help deal with his addiction. A counselor at Mt. View High was very helpful in suggesting several options. During the next two years, Tag attended three different treatment programs. Tag graduated from Mt. View and felt the best option at that time was to move to Oklahoma City and live in a halfway house with some of the other students from his most recent program. They all helped each other and worked outside the house at various jobs.
Tag eventually found himself working at a popular restaurant and started out as a “Bus Boy.” During the next year and a half he worked his way up to a server position and was also a trainer for new servers. He met many people while working at the restaurant and most became his friends. His association with those friends and co-workers became an important part of his long term goal to start a coffee business in Oklahoma. Coffee was a much larger industry in Oregon than Oklahoma at that time and Tag felt that there was an opportunity to get in on the “ground level” in Oklahoma.
One of those friends was a pharmaceutical representative and between them, they hatched the idea of a coffee catering service. The concept was for the rep to set up an appointment in a medical office and then hire Tag to come in and serve coffee and smoothies during the medical presentation. With Oklohoma city being a big medical community and just learning about the new coffee wave, soon Tag’s coffee service was a popular hit with all the doctor’s offices and their employees. The service was called “Dirty Water Coffee” and many asked, “Why that name?” Two reasons: 1. with the last name Dertinger Tag’s nickname was “Dirty”. And when you really look at a cup of coffee, doesn’t it really look like dirty water?
In the following years, Dirty Water Coffee was the only full service coffee catering operation in Oklahoma City. During the busy years, Tag had up to three employees serving as many as 50 – 70 appointments a week. Many employees were college students or guys his age that needed to earn some income and work in a high level customer service position. Teaching the employees the coffee basics was the easy part. Teaching them responsibility, dependability and respect for the customer was always the most important part of the total job.
Tag was very outgoing, fun loving, an outdoor enthusiast, and a good friend to many people; both in Central Oregon, and in Oklahoma. He was never too busy to lend a hand, help with a problem or go on a road trip at a moment’s notice. Helping others and those that were less fortunate than he was always an important part of his thinking and actions. He was always quick with a hug and a smile, and a handshake was firm commitment of his intent.
As Tag moved into his mid to late twenties, he struggled with some “Demons” in his life. We all have “Demons” in our lives – in some cases, we learn to work with them, around them or in the worst case, they are a dark place in our lives. Tag was diagnosed Bi-Polar and then began the battle of emotions and prescription drugs to deal with the range of Bi-Polar challenges. In November of 2012 Tag took his life to ease the pain he was suffering.
Tag’s legacy lives on through the Tag It Forward movement created and maintained by Tag’s family of friends. And through Tag it Forward Coffee, a symbol of Tag’s families commitment to continuing Tag’s legacy of giving back.