September 13, 2011

John Edward Taylor

Ma and Pa Kettle 2
John & Mary Ann Taylor
Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows of my friendship with John and his contributions to my Coffey research.  I first met John in Richmond, VA a number of years ago when he and his wife Mary Ann hosted a Coffey Cousins’ reunion in that city.  John was not a Coffey descendant, but had an extremely strong interest in Virginia history and genealogy.  He had purchased some land in Coffeytown (Alto) in Amherst Co. and became curious of the families that had settled there.  Over the years as his study progressed he developed theories about the family and descendants of Jordan Coffey, the founder of Coffeytown.  He very early believed that Jordan was not a Coffey but was the illegitimate son of Jane Coffey, a daughter of William and Polly Rippetoe Coffey.  Subsequent DNA testing of a proven descendant of Jordan proved that he was not a Coffey but was fathered by a Talliaferro (Tolliver).

John was also an excellent photographer with an eye for color, contrast and composition.  My digital album contains hundreds of his photographs.  He and Mary Ann spent hours photographing and documenting gravestones in Hollywood, Riverview and other cemeteries in Virginia, including many in Amherst Co.

By profession, John was an architect.  He was also a member of the board of directors of the Powhatan Co., VA Historical Society.  Mary Ann is an extremely gifted pen and ink artist.  My wife and I are in possession of many of their custom made Christmas cards adorned with her drawings of several historical buildings and homes in their part of Virginia.

Most recently John and I collaborated to produce several volumes of work on the Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery in Powhatan Co.  He did the photography, composed the verbage, did the lay out and printed the works.  I did the genealogical research on the families buried there.  My part was small, but It was a monumental piece of work for John and one I’m certain that he was very proud of and the Society very happy to receive.

A few months ago John was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus.  It appeared not to have spread and he successfully underwent radiation and chemotherapy.  Even through all that he rarely missed a day of his professional work and weekends would often find him and Mary Ann off on a photo safari somewhere in VA.  He and Mary Ann were making plans to once again host Coffey Cousins’ in Virginia in 2012.  But, as the days progressed he found himself easily tiring and in pain.  During Hurricane Irene he admitted himself to the hospital and learned within a day or two that the cancer had spread.  Doctors gave him a few months.  Their predictions did not hold up and within a week or so after returning home John passed away on Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011, with family and friends nearby.  He will be laid to rest on Wednesday, Sep. 14 in Hollywood Cemetery at Richmond.

His obituary as it appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Sep. 13, 2011:

TAYLOR, John Edward, 66, of Powhatan, passed away, Sunday, September 11, 2011. He was the son of the late Floyd Nash Taylor and Edith Irene Cardoza. He was a graduate of Virginia Tech's School of Architecture. Mr. Taylor had a passion for genealogy and served on the board of the Powhatan Historical Society. He is survived by his wife, Mary Anne Taylor; son, Mark Taylor and his wife, Heather; two brothers, James Taylor and his wife, Lisa, and Wayne Taylor and his wife, Betsy; and several nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, at the Central Chapel of Bennett Funeral Home, 3215 Cutshaw Ave. A graveside service will be held, 10 a.m., Wednesday, September 14, 2011, in Hollywood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society. 

God rest your soul, John and thank you for being my friend.  I miss you already!

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