Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., will close on Wednesday, March 30, at noon so that students and employees can attend a celebration of life service for First Lady Judy Taylor, who died March 26 in Bolivar at the age of 69.
Judy had served at SBU alongside her husband, C. Pat Taylor, since October 1996, when he became president of the institution.
The service is set for 2 p.m. in Mabee Chapel on the Bolivar campus with burial in Greenwood Cemetery in Bolivar. Visitation is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, in the lobby of the Sells Administrative Center at SBU.
Judith Nell Taylor was born the daughter of the late Lewis C. and Mary Nell Poyner Couch on Feb. 15, 1947, in Martin, Tenn. On June 8, 1968, she married Dr. Taylor.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in Martin and completed a master’s education at Western Kentucky University in 1971.
The family moved to Memphis, Tenn., where Judy taught second grade in the public schools and then first grade at the Southern Baptist Educational Center. After a move to Nashville, Tenn., she became dean of women for Belmont University, where she and her husband also were resident directors for three years.
They moved to Jackson, Tenn., where she taught in the education department of Union University for seven years. In 1986, they moved to Shawnee, Okla., where she taught full time and was director of the student teaching program at Oklahoma Baptist University.
At SBU, the couple became the longest-serving president and first lady in the school’s 138-year history.
“Ever since Judy and Pat stepped on campus in 1996, she has been one of SBU’s greatest supporters,” said Don Fahrni, chairman of the board of trustees. “One of her first priorities at SBU was to beautify the campus through landscaping, and she personally invested countless hours in those efforts. She devoted her life to teaching and serving others, and many SBU students benefited from her mentoring and expertise.
“Judy truly will be missed by the entire SBU family,” he said.
Judy received an honorary doctorate of education from SBU in 2013 and served as assistant professor in education 1997-2006. She taught English as a second language in China, Hungary, Brazil, Thailand and Russia and helped organize the English Institute in the state of Roraima in Brazil in 2000.
Judy was active throughout the Bolivar and Polk County area in various organizations, including membership in First Baptist Church of Bolivar, P.E.O. and Daughters of the American Revolution.
Survivors include her husband of 47 years, C. Pat Taylor; two daughters, Marijo Elizabeth Gronewold, and her husband Tom of Homer Glen, Ill., and Charla Couch Austermann and her husband Adam of Ellisville, Mo.; two grandsons, Drew and Luke; a sister, Jenny Dowell, and her husband Billy of Union City, Tenn.; a niece, Ginger Brasfield, and her husband Jay of Jackson, Tenn.; a nephew, Billy Dowell Jr., and his wife Meredith of Orlando, Fla.; and a number of cousins and other relatives.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Judy Taylor Campus Beautification Fund at Southwest Baptist University, 1600 University Ave., Bolivar MO 65613. Cards can be sent to the Office of the President at the same address.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Butler Funeral Home in Bolivar.