Remembering Elinore Taylor

Elinore Taylor’s memorial service is Saturday, February 1 at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church in Huntington. Details here.

Elinore Taylor left us January 12.

I can’t remember a time when Elinore Taylor wasn’t associated with OVEC. If you go to our website and type in her name, you will find page after page of results. Elinore was everywhere present in OVEC’s activities and organizational development. Hers was a welcoming smile at board meetings, protests, and public hearings including events that she initiated. Behind that warm smile was not only a friendly, caring woman, but also a dedicated, determined defender of “the least of these, my brethren.” She gave voice to the underdog through her frequent hard-hitting letters to local and state newspapers expressing her personal outrage. A professor from Marshall University, even though retired she continued to educate many people about social and environmental injustices.

Elinore Taylor May 28 2012, on the WV State Capitol steps.

Elinore Taylor May 28 2012, on the WV State Capitol steps.

She was a remarkable, loving woman and a true patriot. She regularly called elected officials and undoubtedly gave them an earful. She exuded both passion and compassion for fellow West Virginians, especially those impacted by mountaintop removal strip mining. From Mother Jones to Memphis Tennessee Garrison, West Virginia women have always had a unique way of standing up for what’s right. And so it was with Elinore who, along with other women, was shorn on Memorial Day 2012, to underscore the untold losses of stripped mountains, forests, water resources, human health and communities.

elinorShe translated her concern about our dwindling democracy, bought-and-paid-for politicians and the environment (especially our mountains) by taking action. She gave generously of her time and financial resources. Elinore understood the connection between environmental injustice and the massive contributions of polluters into political campaigns. For that reason, she was a vocal and stalwart supporter of OVEC’s goal to create a program for public financing of elections. She understood that this system could help decrease the undue influence of coal and other polluting industries on public policy, as well as provide an avenue for ordinary people to run for political office.

Elinore lived in the present, yet also cared about the OVEC’s future. When Elinore decided that it was time to make room for younger people on OVEC’s board, she recommended Robin Blakeman to take her place and brought her to a board meeting in Boone County. As you may know, OVEC senior staff quickly recognized what Elinore knew all along — as an ordained Presbyterian minister, Robin is a gifted organizer. Soon thereafter, OVEC asked Robin to join the staff as a full-time organizer and faith-based liaison. Undoubtedly, Elinore understood the significance of garnering the faith communities’ support and participation in OVEC’s work in West Virginia.

For me and for many others, Elinore was a great role model and steady encourager. She would call me from time to time to congratulate OVEC on a big or small victory or just to see how we all were faring. On occasion, she stopped by our office to retrieve or bring us information or just to say hello, even though our steep stairs could leave her a little breathless. Just this past Christmas Eve, she took time to call me to see how I was doing and invite me to church services; she was concerned I might be alone and knew my only sister was struggling with a terminal illness. Having lost her own beloved Nancy the previous year, she truly empathized. Her wisdom, sharp wit, winning smile and keen intelligence were a gift to all of us. Who but Elinore would refer to the apolitical masses as the “somnambulant public?”

I find it quite difficult to think of Elinore in the past tense, because she has truly left an indelible mark on OVEC, on me, and on so many people and organizations with whom she was aligned. We hope she keeps plotting, scheming, and whispering in our ears along with other strong spirits on the other side, like Winnie Fox, Laura Forman, Judy Bonds and Larry Gibson. We loved her and will miss her physical presence greatly and extend OVEC’s heartfelt condolences to Elinore’s family and friends.

Elinore Taylor’s family requested that memorial gifts in her name be made to the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, 469 Norway Ave., Huntington, WV25705, for their Child Care Center and Food Closet, or to OVEC. 

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The Author

Janet Keating

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