John Paul Taylor (J. Paul) passed away peacefully on February 12, 2023 at his home in Mesilla, New Mexico. He was 102 years old. Taylor was born on August 24, 1920 in Chamberino, NM. His father, William Robert Taylor, was a Texas native whose family owned a dairy in El Paso. His mother, María Margarita Romero, traced her ancestry to Juan de Cabeza de Vaca, a soldier with Coronado’s expedition in 1540 and two of the original Spanish colonists who came to New Mexico in 1598.
In 1942, Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in history from what was then the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. After wartime service in Naval intelligence, he earned two additional degrees in education and later an honorary doctorate from NMSU. In 1945, J. Paul married Mary Helen Daniels, a schoolteacher from El Paso. They purchased an adobe home on the west side of the Mesilla Plaza in the early 1950s and proceeded to raise seven children within its renovated walls.
Taylor spent more than three decades (1951-1985) as a teacher, principal, and associate superintendent in the Las Cruces Public School system. For nine consecutive terms he served as the Democratic Representative for District 33 in the New Mexico legislature where he was known as the “the conscience of the New Mexico Legislature.” He was a delegate to three national Democratic conventions.
Mr. Taylor has shared his expertise with the community by serving on boards of many non-profit organizations. In recognition of his contributions to enhancing the quality of life for all New Mexicans, J. Paul Taylor received numerous honors and awards throughout his lifetime. Taylor’s dedication as a legislator and his commitment to arts and culture has also been well acknowledged.
Taylor served three terms as a member of the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents participating fully this past January in person, making the four hour drive up and back from Mesilla to Santa Fe with help from his family.
Taylor’s affection for the town of Mesilla and for preserving its history and heritage has been a life long journey. The town honored him by naming the Mesilla Town Hall the J. Paul Taylor Visitor Center. In 2003, J. Paul and the late Mary Daniels Taylor and their family generously donated their historic adobe home and two adjoining stores to the Museum of New Mexico as a State Historic Site.
For those of us who have had the privilege of being part of his family, his friend, his acquaintance, or just a fan, we know that he is leaving us a legacy of generosity, kindness, compassion, and the responsibility to make our communities and state a better place. We can thank him because we have his example to follow into the future.
Though his public accomplishments are remarkable, Paul’s love for his wife, Mary Daniels Taylor, and their seven children, 18 grandchildren, and 20 great grandchildren, have been the joy of his life. J. Paul Taylor is survived by his children: Robert Milton Taylor (Sherry), Mary Dolores Taylor, Michael Romero Taylor (Gail), Mary Helen Ratje (Jim), Daughter-in-law, Maggie Griffin-Taylor, Albert Patrick Taylor (Wendy), and Rosemary Marguerite Stolberg (Tom), . J. Paul Taylor leaves 18 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. He is also survived by six nephews and two nieces. J. Paul Taylor is preceded in death by his dear wife: Mary Daniels Taylor (2007) and his dear son, John Paul Taylor, Jr. (2004).
The Basilica of San Albino is a three-minute walk from the Taylor home and has been central to the Taylor family life for over 73 years. A rosary will be said at the Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla, New Mexico on Thursday, February 23 at 6:00 PM. Funeral service will take place at the Basilica on Friday, February 24 at 11:00 AM. Funeral services will be livestreamed on the Getz Funeral Home Facebook page. Getz Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, J. Paul Taylor wanted donations to be considered for the following entities: Friends of the Taylor-Mesilla Historic Site (Donations - jpt100th.com, Basilica of San Albino (Basilica of San Albino), and the New Mexico State University Foundation specific to one of the following programs: J. Paul Taylor Endowed Chair in Early Childhood, J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium, John Paul Taylor, Jr. Endowed Memorial Fund, Rio Grande Historical Collections (Mary Daniels Taylor and J. Paul Taylor’s Papers).
To donate to the university, access:
Give Now | New Mexico State University Foundation (https://nmsufoundation.org/givenow/giving-university.html) (click on “CH-Other” and indicate which project you would like to donate to)
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