Edith Lee Taylor dies at 83

Former longtime psychiatric hospital executive director

April 19, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Edith Lee Taylor, who had been executive director of the old Taylor Manor Hospital for three decades, died Saturday complications from a stroke at Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside, Calif. The longtime Pikesville resident was 83.

Edith Lee Goodman was born in Philadelphia and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., and after spending a year in Israel with her mother, she moved with her family to Pasadena, Calif., in 1935.

After graduating from high school, she attended Pasadena Junior College, where she played the drums in the college band and was a cheerleader at the Rose Bowl.

Mrs. Taylor moved to Baltimore and attended the old West Baltimore General Hospital School of Nursing — later the Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing.

As a student nurse, one of Mrs.Taylor's responsibilities was caring for a ward of 60 medical patients at night, family members said.

It was while she was a student nurse that she met her future husband, Dr. Irving Julian Taylor, who was a resident at the hospital.

After marrying in 1946, Mrs. Taylor left the nursing program and relocated with her husband, who was a captain in the Army Medical Corps, first to western North Carolina and then to Coral Gables, Fla.

In 1947, the couple returned to Baltimore, where Dr. Taylor completed his residency training at Perry Point Veterans Hospital and Spring Grove State Hospital.

Dr. Taylor was named medical director in 1949 of Taylor Manor Hospital in Ellicott City, a small 12-bed psychiatric hospital that his father, Isaac Taylor, had purchased in 1939.

That same year, Mrs. Taylor was appointed executive director of the hospital. She worked alongside her husband for the next 30 years.

Eventually, Taylor Manor expanded into a 204-bed hospital and developed a reputation as one of the East Coast's most progressive facilities in treating psychiatric patients as well as those suffering from substance abuse.

"She worked tirelessly to improve hospital facilities as well as the care and treatment of the mentally ill for the next 30 years, from sewing of curtains and designing new buildings to creating and implementing unique educational opportunities and new services at Taylor Manor Hospital," said her son, Dr. Bruce T. Taylor, who succeeded his father as medical director.

"She also spearheaded the hospital's achieving and maintaining its top Joint Commission Accreditation status starting in the mid-1960s," said her son, who lives in Pikesville.

Beginning in 1964, Mrs.Taylor and her husband worked closely with architects to design and build a $1 million hospital building on the facility's 460-acre campus on College Avenue that was ahead of its time in "functionality and safety," and "met the needs of patients, family and staff in an atmosphere of openness and beauty despite being a psychiatric facility," her son said.

Mrs. Taylor took charge of the design of each of the patient rooms. She also incorporated her love of artwork and decor that contributed toward a homelike atmosphere rather than traditional institutionalized functionality.

"She was multitalented and took a very active role in the planning of this building," her husband said. "We were working on a tight budget, and she agreed to purchase the material and sewed at least 75 pairs of curtains for the various rooms."

Mrs. Taylor earned a Baltimore Artist Equity Award for her work integrating original art into the hospital's decor and for bringing local artists' shows to the hospital.

In 1974, she founded Talented Teens in Maryland Art Show at Taylor Manor, an annual exhibit whose purpose was to give young Marylanders an opportunity to display their work in competition.

Other duties that Mrs. Taylor presided over included hiring, training and managing the staff. A skilled writer and designer, she won an international marketing competition for the design of the hospital's brochures and educational materials that were sent to health care professionals across the U.S.

With her son, she helped develop the first direct advertising program for a hospital in Maryland.

In 1966, she established the hospital's acclaimed education series.

"These symposia, developed before continuing education was a requirement, were open to mental health professionals and the public, and developed national and international acclaim for annually bringing in experts to educate the community on the latest advances in psychiatric care," her son said.

For many decades, she was active along with her husband in the National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals. For their work taking the stigma away from mental illness, the couple was given an award from the National Institute of Mental Health.

"She was always well-liked and respected by both the patients and staff," her husband said.

Since 2002, Taylor Manor Hospital has been Sheppard Pratt at Ellicott City.

After retiring in 1979, Mrs. Taylor and her husband moved to a second home in Palm Springs, Calif.; for the past 21 years, they lived in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Mrs. Taylor spent part of the year in Rancho Santa Fe and part of the year in Pikesville, where she lived in a home she had designed and had built in 1950.

In her retirement, Mrs. Taylor served on the boards of several charitable organizations, including Delta Society, which stresses the importance of the animal-human bond.

An animal lover, she also became the lead philanthropist of the small-animal wing at the only veterinary hospital in the Middle East, which is part of Hebrew University, her son said.

She was a congregant of Oheb Shalom and Temple Solel in Encinitas, Calif.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to her husband and son, survivors include a daughter, Stephanie L. Taylor of Sedona, Ariz.; and four grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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