Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Gordy & Diane Taylor
38 Years, $100,000 and Four Scholarships - The Taylor Legacy
Most WIU community members will recognize the name Gordon “Gordy” Taylor; he directed Western’s award-winning alumni program for 28 years before retiring in January 2006 with a total of more than 38 years of service to the University. Diane, Gordy’s wife of 41 years (they met on a blind date at Lake Argyle in 1967), retired from Spoon River College in Macomb where she taught English for many years. Most people associated with both WIU and SRC know of Gordy and Diane’s strong belief in the power of education. What they may not know, however, is that Gordy and Diane have quietly created, funded, and planned for a total of four scholarships to benefit students of Western Illinois University (including transfer students from Spoon River College).
The Dr. Gordon A. and Constance Taylor Scholarship was established by the four Taylor sons to honor their parents. All four siblings were graduates of Hinsdale Central High School (Hinsdale, IL) and Western Illinois University: David Scott ‘64, Gordon Arthur “Gordy” ‘68, Douglas Allan ‘73, and Gregory Philip ’82. The family scholarship is awarded to an entering WIU freshman from Hinsdale Central High School with a declared major in business.
The Harry and Anna Paulsen Scholarship is named in honor of Diane’s parents. Anna always wanted to be a teacher, but living through the Great Depression prohibited her from fulfilling her dream. She and Harry, a WWII veteran with a Purple Heart, encouraged their four children to pursue higher education after graduation from Zion-Benton Township High School (ZBTHS). Three of their four children went on to receive degrees from WIU: Ruth (Paulsen) Drew ’79, Paul Paulsen ’75, and Diane (Paulsen) Taylor ’89 ‘91, as did two of their grandchildren: Jennifer (Taylor) Stevenson ’95 and Neil Paulsen ‘02.
Anna Paulsen worked 22 years as a bookkeeper at ZBTHS, her son Paul retired as the math department chair, and daughter-in-law Marsha is a guidance counselor. Because of these close ties, and Anna’s unfulfilled dream of becoming a teacher, the scholarship is given to a ZBTHS graduate entering WIU to study teacher education. The Harry and Anna Paulsen Scholarship is supported by Harry and Anna, Ruth and Steve Drew, Paul and Marsha Paulsen, and Diane and Gordy Taylor.
The Gordon and Diane Taylor Scholarship was initiated by Diane with financial support from WIU alumni and friends upon Gordy’s 2006 retirement as a way to honor his years of service to WIU. The Taylors have structured their scholarship to benefit a new transfer student from SRC with a preference for declared English majors. “We really appreciate all the support we received from family, friends, and colleagues to honor Gordy with this scholarship,” said Diane.
The Gordon and Diane Taylor Alumni Council Scholarship will be awarded as part of Gordy and Diane’s estate. Admittedly, they both have “Purple and Gold” running through their veins, and Gordy’s relationship with alumni has been a highlight of his life. When making provisions for this scholarship, the Taylors decided they would like the child of an alum with proven participation and leadership activities to receive this scholarship.
“The first scholarship was started on a whim,” said Gordy, “then it took off and impressed us with the good it could do.” “We both believe that education strengthens individuals and embrace the idea of helping students achieve their educational objectives,” added Diane, “so we went on to establish scholarships in honor of our parents, who encouraged us to pursue higher education.”
“Western has been very good to us,” said Gordy. “Diane and I met, married, and raised our family here. Many of our family members also graduated from Western and have gone on to rewarding lives. These scholarships are our living legacy; they will continue long after we are gone and pay tribute to our family by helping students at the institution that gave so much to us.”