Cancer claims Charles E. Taylor, a man who worked to make island life better

March 5, 2008 

Charles E. Taylor, who worked through the arts, his church and the new Charles and Ellen Taylor Prostate Cancer Partners of the Lowcountry to make life better on Hilton Head Island, died Tuesday at his home in Long Cove Club.

Taylor, 73, was diagnosed two years ago with an aggressive form of prostate cancer that attacked his body between regular checkups. The Taylors then dedicated their family foundation to fighting prostate cancer. Last week, some 800 men got free prostate screenings in the partnership's "Drive Against Prostate Cancer" held over five days in a mobile lab parked in Bluffton, Hardeeville and Hilton Head.

"I've never seen anything start from a grassroots effort to become so significant so quickly," said his physician, Dr. Stephen M. Scionti. "Charlie worked on it daily until he couldn't get out of bed. This is a great tribute to him, and it's going to do a lot of good for people -- no question about it."

Taylor, a quiet man with a soothing, musical voice, was most often associated with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. He served as board president for three terms, when the orchestra added its education and outreach program in the schools, the Hilton Head Youth Orchestra, and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition.

A piece will be dedicated to Taylor during the finals of the ongoing piano competition.

"Quality of life issues are often ignored," said Willis O. Shay, who recruited Taylor to the board, "but Charles had a very, very strong sense of how to live a good life and make it better for others."

Taylor also served on the board of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. President and CEO Kathleen Bateson said, "Charles was a person who always looked beyond space and other limitations for ways to connect to the people of the community."

Taylor served two terms as an elder at First Presbyterian Church and was church treasurer for seven years.

Former pastor, the Rev. John M. Miller, said, "Charles and Ellen Taylor are the most stellar Christian stewards I have ever known in terms of their generosity

to the church. Charles had an exceedingly deep faith. He had a great sense of humor and they were both always fun to be with."

The Taylors were high school sweethearts who married 51 years ago. They moved to the island in 1981 after he lost his appliance store in Ohio when the steel industry declined. He was $100,000 in debt, but refused to declare bankruptcy. The Taylors invested Ellen's inheritance in a condominium at South Beach. They rented it to vacationers, and it became a business that blossomed. They sold to ResortQuest Hilton Head in 1999.

Memorial service details were incomplete Tuesday.

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