Jacquelyn S. Taylor, PhD, of Walpole, MA, passed away on October 20, 2019, age 66. She leaves to mourn her spouse of 16 years, Cynthia L. Wegel, mother, Barbara L. Taylor and her husband Chuck Bushey of Lake Oswego, OR, sister and brother-in-law, Sandy and Damon Rust of West Linn, OR, brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Stephanie Taylor of Shedd, OR, her niece, Alisa Grover and Jared, her niece, Randee Rust and Cy, great nephew, Nolan Taber, great niece Cora Taber, great nephew, Tristan Grover, numerous other relatives, a vast extended family of friends, colleagues, and devoted church members. Jacquie was preceded in death by her father, James G. Taylor, aunt Twila Butler, mother-in-law Barbara Pettis, and her beloved Beagle, Alex.
The soundtrack of Jacquie’s life is unarguably magnificent: a lifetime filled with love, laughter, heartache and pain. Nevertheless, she persisted. A native of Astoria, Oregon, Jacquie was first exposed to funeral service as a curious elementary school student. When she was 10 years old and started to realize death happened to more than just family pets, she became interested in touring the local funeral home, which was located next to her church. After touring the facility with her Junior High class, Jacquie began drawing floor plans of funeral homes and told everyone she was going to be a mortician.
After graduating from High School in Boise, Idaho, Jacquie moved to attend the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science on the advice of a kindly funeral director who did not discourage her despite her age and gender. She immediately went to view the lab and was afraid she would faint. She was completely fascinated and felt as if she had pierced the secret veil of the death care profession.
To serve her apprenticeship, Jacquie returned to Oregon and a position at McGaffey Andreason Eugene Memorial Chapel. At just 20 years old, the relative neophyte relished the opportunity and embraced the experience. At first, she was only allowed to sit outside the room and listen, while the owner or other licensed funeral directors on staff made arrangements. She worked predominantly in the embalming room.
In 1974, McGaffey Andreason was sold to Uniservice Corporation. Founder and CEO Ellsworth “Ells” Purdy quickly became a devoted mentor to young Jacquie, who would adopt, implement and promote his innovative funeral service ideologies for the rest of her career. Purdy, who began as a livery service operator, soon grew to own over three dozen funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories in addition to wholesaling caskets to his firms through Crown Casket Company.
Purdy was a maverick and a visionary who understood that cremation itself was not a problem but that skipping the funeral would eventually become a problem. He was among the first to enact an adaptive funeral program, which would encourage funeral directors to offer services that were unique, special and designed to honor a life well lived through any realistic means possible. This was Jacquie’s foundation for serving families. In 1984, Uniservice Corporation was sold to Service Corporation International (SCI). Jacquie had a short stint as a training, development and marketing representative before being recruited by her alma mater to teach.
Starting as an instructor at San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, she was quickly promoted to director of admissions. She loved the classroom, and the students were always her first priority. Jacquie credited her long tenure to a genuine desire to educate future funeral directors. Spending a few years as dean of students, Jacquie still taught courses such as restorative art, funeral directing, and management for nearly three decades, even after assuming the role of college president. Along the way, she completed her Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of San Francisco.
In 2001, an offer was extended to the veteran educator and college administrator to join the faculty of Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. As a full tenured professor, Jacquie would also serve as the executive director of the college’s New England Institute of Funeral Service Education. After dealing with the taxing responsibilities of being a college administrator, the classroom was truly her place of solace and where she felt most at home.
Jacquie was compelled to complete her doctorate in philosophy (PhD) because she needed to answer burning questions about the future of funeral service. Dually concentrating in ethical and creative leadership and public policy, Jacquie titled her dissertation “Unfinished Business: A Study of Leadership and Adaptive Challenges in the Professionalization of Funeral Directors.”
Eager to bring her experience, instruction and advice to a divergent audience, Jacquie retired as a full-time professor in 2014 to establih The Funeral Tutor, a consulting firm that specialized in change management, organizational development, economies of scale for multi-location firms and meeting the challenges faced by contemporary funeral service professionals. In addition, she started work as a special projects coordinator for The Dodge Company. As a special projects coordinator she supported the executive team by providing research on topics such as OSHA, licensing laws and occupational risk management. The Dodge Company, a heritage manufacturer of embalming chemicals and related products, is currently owned by fourth-generation sisters Debbie and Kristie Dodge. The company also has a private family museum, where Jacquie served as curator.
In a career that came full-circle, the enduring and steadfast funeral service advocate was excited about the opportunity to continue her life’s work. But on August 10, 2018 she was diagnsed with breast cancer and on September 4, 2019 the cancer returned with a vengeance spreading to her liver, bones and throughout her body. Funeral director, embalmer, teacher, scholar, and thinking coach perfectly describes this remarkable pioneer in the death care profession. Jacquie always felt called to serve her fellow man. In her many roles within the profession, her roles always aligned with the reason she chose funeral service as her career and life work. She yearned to do something different that made a difference. Nevertheless, she persisted and did.
Information taken from the March 2019 issue of “Southern Calls…A Funeral Director’s Perspective” article written by Dr. Taylor’s dear friend, Mike Squires, CFSP, CCO, Publisher/Editor-In-Chief.
Family, friends and colleagues are cordially invited to celebrate this beloved woman, death care professional, scholar and funeral service pioneer on Friday, November 1, 2019 for visitation hours from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home. The Service Honoring Jacquie’s Life will be held Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 11:00 A.M. at United Church Walpole, 30 Common St., Walpole, MA 02081 (508-668-0551) with The Rev. Anna Flowers, Senior Pastor and The Rev. Kathleen A. McAdams officiating. Procession immediately following to Woodlawn North Purchase Crematory, 825 N. Main St., Attleboro, MA for cremation committal service. Jacquie loved candles and flowers, or those who wish may donate to United Church Walpole Capital Fund, P.O. Box 287, Walpole, MA 02081 in memory of Jacquelyn S. Taylor, PhD. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to James H. Delaney & Son Funeral Home, 48 Common St, Walpole, MA 02081 (508-668-1960) as stated by Jacquie, “come see how a funeral should be done.” Jim Delaney, Funeral Director and Valerie J. Wages, CFSP & Funeral Director from Georgia personally in charge of Jacquie’s End of Life Wishes.
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