Terry Weldon Taylor, political operative

Terry W. Taylor
Terry W. Taylor (Baltimore Sun)

Terry Weldon Taylor, a former public affairs director of a Baltimore health center and veteran political operative, died Wednesday from complications of a stroke at Northwest Hospital. The Windsor Mills resident was 62.

"I got to know him through the late Wendell H. Phillips, who was the pastor of Heritage United Church of Christ and had served in the Maryland House of Delegates. Terry had all of the political spirituality of that congregation," said City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

"We worked together on numerous campaigns and he always helped me. He was very quiet, very smart and very effective in everything he ever did," Mrs. Clarke said.

"He was a wonderful friend and the most loyal of men. He was always so hardworking, yet seemed laid-back," she said. "He was a very dear and close friend for hundreds of us."

The son of an educator and a government worker, Mr. Taylor was born in Philadelphia and moved with his family to Baltimore in 1951, settling in a home on Copley Road in the Ashburton neighborhood.

He was a scholar-athlete at Forest Park High School, where he lettered in football, lacrosse and wrestling.

After graduating from Forest Park in 1968, he received a bachelor's degree in economics in 1972 at what is now Morgan State University. He earned a master's degree in 1995 in campaign management from George Washington University.

"My father and I introduced him to politics, and he learned to love politics," said his brother, Lynnwood M. Taylor, who has been active for years in liberal Democratic politics and as a campaign manager. "Once he got a taste of it, it was all over."

Terry W. Taylor rose to political prominence during the 1970s. In addition to Mr. Phillips' quest for his legislative seat, Mr. Taylor played major roles locally in the Democratic presidential campaigns of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and the congressional campaigns of Parren J. Mitchell and City Councilwoman Jacqueline F. McLean.

When Mr. Taylor ran the 1983 City Council campaign for Miss McLean, then a political unknown, she collected the second-highest vote total in the 2nd District race.

In 1987, when Mayor Clarence H. Du Burns ran for re-election, he turned to Mr. Taylor, who had been president and owner of Mal-Mar Industries Inc., manufacturers of paper surgical gowns, caps and slippers used in hospitals and doctor's offices.

Mr. Taylor resigned a week later after it was learned that he had defaulted on $470,000 in government loans from the city of Baltimore, the Baltimore Economic Development Corp., the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority and the Small Business Administration to his then-defunct business, which was located in Park Heights and liquidated in 1986.

"I thought it best for the campaign," Mr. Taylor told The Baltimore Sun at the time. "I did not want to do anything that would hurt the mayor. I want him to stay in City Hall."

"Terry dealt with politicians both on the local and national level. He had managed my dad's campaign and when I ran in 1998, I turned to him. He brought tenacity, vigor and love to it," said former state Del. Wendell H. Phillips Jr., who won his father's old seat from the 41st District and served in the House of Delegates from 1999 to 2003.

"He could list all the precincts and tell you how the folks voted in the last 10-year election cycle. He had that stuff on the tip of his tongue," said Mr. Phillips, now director of government relations at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro.

"Terry, who was like the big brother I never had because I was an only child, believed in public service. He was very much part of that, and because he did, he'll be sorely missed," said Mr. Phillips.

Mr. Taylor had been a community relations associate at Bon Secours Hospital and had served as acting chief of the state Division of Vital Records from 1987 to 1991.

From 2007 to 2011, he was director of public affairs for People's Community Health Care Centers, which provide medical services to people regardless of their insurance or financial status.

Since 2009, he also was an instructor in campaign management at Sojourner Douglass College in Baltimore.

He was an active member of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association and Transit Organizers.

Mr. Taylor was a former member of Heritage United Church of Christ, where he had served in various capacities, including chair of the diaconate.

"He was also a motivator and inspired children at the church to excel," said his wife of nine years, the former Marisa Gadson, a site manager for People's Community Health Care Centers.

Mr. Taylor was an avid fan of the Cooking Channel, his wife said, and was an "excellent cook who enjoyed entertaining family and friends."

Mr. Taylor, who liked to cook on his outdoor charcoal grill, was known for his prime rib, beer chicken and a variety of seafood and shrimp dishes.

Recently, Mr. Taylor rejoined his former church, Leadenhall Baptist Church, 1021 Leadenhall St., where services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday after a 10 a.m. wake.

In addition to his wife and brother, Mr. Taylor is survived by two daughters, Terri Michelle Taylor of Greenbelt and Lauren Denise Taylor of Atlanta; and a stepson, Thaddeus Thornton IV of Windsor Mills. An earlier marriage to the former Debora Monroe ended in divorce.


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