On the verge of moving out here full time in the late 90s, I was visiting a friend who lived in Orient when Carol Taylor stopped by wanting to borrow a funny hat from my friend. The two of them went laughing into the house and I remember thinking, “I wonder who she is…she seems like fun.” It wasn’t long after, that I found myself dancing across the stage at Poquatuck Hall in a cow costume (Cow #3 for a NFWFWF talent show), my first role in a list of Carol Taylor ideas. I learned quickly that it was hard to refuse becoming involved in a Carol Taylor project.
Her greatest project (and legacy), no doubt, was the founding of the Narrow River Singers who, in the spring of 2013, will celebrate its 15th anniversary – an anniversary not just of concerts, but also of the ever-evolving opportunity to learn about singing through its creative and talented members. Carol had a real knack for gathering people around an idea. And, she loved music.
I watched her transform her backyard pool into a magnificently orchestrated “Sync or Swim” event and Poquatuck Hall into fabulously fun, “Karaoke Nights”, all chorus fundraisers. Before I knew Carol, she had won prestigious awards for her environmental films at The National Audubon Society, where she worked as Director of Film and Media for over twenty-five years.
Carol’s projects were not always on a grand scale: She devised lily pads, complete with little palm trees, to save the frogs that fell or jumped into her pool by mistake. She helped protect the endangered Piping Plovers at Orient State Park, knitted sweaters for Afghani children, and researched the benefits of starting a Laughing Club that became our Sunday morning Breakfast Club. She studied the stars from her balcony, tried to overcome her fear of water by learning boating, and wrote a column for the NFWFWF Newsletter called, “The Skinny”.
She recently traveled to old childhood places with her best and dearest friend, Jennifer, and presented her nieces with well thought out gifts of art lessons, a holistic retreat, and a trip to England. The Breakfast Club would tease Carol when she would sit at our table sporting a new shirt she bought at the Opportunity Shop in Greenport, (“Notice anything new, girls?” “ Yes – a new ‘Op-top’!”)
I learned from Carol why people say they “battle” cancer. It is a relentless demon. Sometimes, when you are going through difficult times, you find solace and strength in unexpected places. Some people find Jesus. Carol found Elmo (yes, Sesame Street Elmo). It was Elmo who kept Carol’s spirit light and her feet on the ground as cancer and its treatments tried to do otherwise. She was so relieved to have been cancer free only to be broadsided by it, yet again, in June.
On July 15th, our Breakfast Club met at the Hellenic for the first time without Carol. She was usually the first to arrive and the first to leave. We continued the teasing, put together a typical Carol Styrofoam box of left over goodies, and in unison bid each other Carol’s goodbye, “Well, girls…” as we left together – not letting anyone else leave early…
Carol Lee Taylor, 78, died on July 10, 2012 from cancer in a nursing home in Greenport, Long Island near her home in Orient, NY. She grew up in Bedford, NY, went to Chatham Hall in Virginia and Vassar College. While at Vassar she joined a very popular singing group called The G Stringers which appeared on The Arthur Godfrey Show. She formed a singing group in Orient called The Narrow River Singers which was also very popular.
Carol first worked for Time, Inc and then for The National Audubon Society in New York where she produced several movies that were shown around the country and in New York City. She received many rewards for her work at Audubon. She is survived by her brother, Winfield Taylor, Jr and three nieces, Nancy Lynn Jaffer, Frances Alvino and Joanne Jaffer.