When her daughter was stationed with the military in Afghanistan, Judy Taylor wrote her letters every day and often sent care packages.
This occurred even when Mrs. Taylor was undergoing major surgery and aggressive cancer treatments. It was just one example that family and friends cited of her kind, caring nature.
Mrs. Taylor, who worked for diocesan Catholic Charities from 1988 to 2005 and was formerly the agency’s communications manager, died after a seven-year battle with cancer July 19, 2007. She was 60.
A native of Buffalo, Mrs. Taylor studied English on scholarship at LeMoyne College in Syracuse. She was motivated by her parents, who worked hard to give their daughter advantages, said Paul Taylor, her husband of nearly 34 years.
“She never forgot how her family struggled,” he said. “She had an innate sense of what was fair, and she got very upset at those who have the power. She felt it was her responsibility to speak up for those who did not, but she would do it in a very quiet way.”
She sought justice for the disadvantaged through her work at Catholic Charities, where she helped organize Catholic Relief Service’s Operation Rice Bowl, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal. She also organized Work of Human Hands sales at the diocese and was a member of the Diocesan Public Policy Committee, among other roles.
In 2003, she won national recognition from Catholic Relief Services as the outstanding local Operation Rice Bowl Coordinator in the Country, said Jack Balinsky, diocesan director of Catholic Charities. Two years later, Catholic Charities also presented her with its Bishop Matthew H. Clark Award. She greeted both honors with characteristic modesty, Balinsky noted.
“Humility was a very important part of who Judy Taylor was,” he said.
She also didn’t brag about her role in helping to create the award-winning television series “Reading Rainbow.” She worked at WNED-TV, Buffalo’s public-broadcasting station, in the late 1970s, and one of the shows she worked on was the “Reading Rainbow” precursor “Television Library Club.” One of Mrs. Taylor’s roles was to put together study booklets and outreach activities for librarians and parents, said former colleague Tony Buttino of West Seneca.
“She was very well-organized and so creative,” he said.
Within the last year, she and Buttino reconnected to plan a fundraiser and awards dinner for the prison ministry Cephas Rochester. The event is set for Nov. 10 at St. Patrick Church in Victor.
“She was very pleased that even late in her life — and her health was failing — that she was able to do something to help others,” Paul Taylor said.
In her spare time, Mrs. Taylor painted and created batik-dyed items. After retiring, she also took Italian-language classes and joined Rochester Area Children’s Writers and Illustrators. However, her four children and her two grandchildren always came first, her husband said.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children, Jessica (Wolfgang) Taylor, James (Bridget) Taylor, Jeremy Taylor and Jonathan Taylor; sisters Rita Garrison and Phyllis Pepe; and brother Richard (Rose) Pepe.
Mrs. Taylor’s memorial Mass will be at noon Aug. 14 at St. Helen Church, 310 Hinchey Road, Gates. Bishop Clark will preside. Memorials may be made to the Lipson Cancer Center, 1425 Portland Ave., Rochester.