James Taylor BLOG, 7 May 2020
By Eric Hastings, Col USMC (Ret)
Founder, CEO & Board Chair, Emeritus’07-‘15
On 5 April 2020, we lost a very special friend. James C. “Jim” Taylor died at age 82 of natural causes in the loving embrace of his family.
When Jean and I first moved back to Bozeman from New York City in 1998 having been gone for 34 years, one of the first people I met was Jim Taylor, the oldest son, who had just taken over the leadership of a struggling local private school. He was a Marine, younger and a naval aviator like me. One of the small things I loved about being a Marine was that you could break down the “code” from tiny clues and you could withdraw precious conclusions about the character of every Marine you ever met just by what he or she wore on his or her chest. Awards. They meant something special. Trustworthiness. And you weren’t just showing off. You were required to wear them, correctly, depending on the uniform. Now you couldn’t conclude everything that mattered. But you knew something distinctive and precious—something you could “take to the bank” or depend on—about a man. In a civilian context (like New York or Bozeman) it might otherwise take a lifetime to learn to trust if you were simply a pair of civilians living near each other in a community and didn’t know what the other one had experienced and been through.
It is also a funny thing about “trust” and “community”. People make their respective daily economic and social “contributions” in well respected, common American ways—of various economic pursuits and worthwhile work, and education, and recreation, and faith, and support for public interests, and so on—forming a rich tapestry comprising a vibrant society that seems to benefit one and all. Yet look closely and many interests and life-saving or life-enriching support institutions and activities go unaddressed, or are inadequately acknowledged—and they receive zero or too little tax support to make a real difference. But who and how do you “trust”? Does your “Why” resonate with “Them”?
Then along comes a man…and a woman, a team, actually…that leaves a traceable, memorable and sustainable impact on worthy causes. Jim and his wife Bea have had an exponentially impactful effect on this extended community, from improvements to Aviation (Gallatin Airport Authority Board), Health Care (Bozeman Deaconess Hospital), Education (Montana State University), Recreation (Museum of the Rockies), and Cultural (Bozeman Symphony & Intermountain Opera). But their influence went National when they chose transformative support of WQW Foundation in our mission of loving, positive intervention in lives of hundreds of America’s traumatically injured servicemen, women, spouses and families…and the thousands of Volunteers and Donors who have become privileged to support them.
I first approached Jim in 2009 (when we had very little money and comparatively very few donors who averaged $100/year) asking him for a substantial donation to be used solely to create a suitable film/DVD useable in effectively spreading WQWF’s mission, vision and operations out in the public. We did our homework; and I went to Jim well armed with facts and no small amount of passion, specifically to persuade him we were on the right track serving desperately injured servicemen, spouses and families.
Jim understood our ultimate “Why” and the goal of the film. Steve McGrath became “The Producer” and he hired Royce Gorsuch, a freshly minted, highly motivated, super-creative cum laude Film & Photography graduate of Montana State University as “The Director”. Together, they produced an exceptionally effective and motivating film: “The Journey Home”. The film became the principal and very efficient fund-raising tool for the rapidly expanding WQW Foundation to use in spreading the word and persuading donors to support our Foundation. This 15-minute film naturally led to a more deeply researched and more broadly persuasive one-hour prize-winning documentary being produced in 2010-11 titled: “Not Yet Begun to Fight”. The newer film has successfully competed in numerous Film Festivals including Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Telluride—even Houston in 2020! It has also been shown on Montana Public Television every year since 2011!
Those two films materially helped generate the possibilities, promises and donors of our drive to own and operate Quiet Waters Ranch. Once the “Requirement” for our own Home became apparent to the Board, a Capital Campaign was studied, justified, designed and approved. Based on their well-known and established local philanthropy, Bea and Jim Taylor were specifically considered. We carefully established the amount we would ask them for; and then Faye Nelson and I asked for a meeting with Bea and Jim in Jim’s Office. Once again, we went to the meeting well armed and well prepared. Unfortunately, Bea couldn’t attend. But Jim listened VERY carefully, asking totally appropriate and very challenging questions. In the end, the Taylors committed to a truly transformative capital pledge. We left the meeting with VERY happy hearts, knowing we were well on our way toward achieving our campaign goal!
Imagine if you will the special, mutual trust we collectively were able to engender between the Taylors and WQW Foundation. This extended local area community in general, combat-injured Post-9/11 servicemen, women, spouses and families from around the Nation, and our Foundation in particular have all been greatly blessed by the singular, sustained leadership and philanthropy of James (and Bea) Taylor. As one of the MANY local beneficiaries of Jim’s involvement and support, WQW Foundation owes a debt of gratitude to the Taylor Family! We are standing at attention; and we salute you, Jim. Semper fidelis! Enjoy the smiling photo of Jim & Bea beside the Taylor Pavilion.