For the past 25 years or more, Dave Taylor was a dear friend to this newspaper.
The talented cartoonist, who provided literally hundreds of images to us, died on Saturday after a sudden bout with cancer.
Dave Taylor was not only a friend of this newspaper but to myself and a lot of others in the community.
His cartoon images spurred many a fundraiser on t-shirts, celebrating championships and special occasions in a way that only Dave’s cartoons could do.
I receive dozens of phone calls every day and there are many numbers engrained in my memory. Some of the time, when I check the caller ID, I roll my eyes, grin and bear it.
Not so when Dave Taylor’s number popped up. That was always a call that was going to be uplifting and make my day. I answered it as quickly as possible. (There are less of those calls than the other, I assure you).
Dave always made it a point to let me know when I’d written something he liked. He was a positive person who loved supporting a good cause and appreciated a good story.
During my tenure here as sports editor, managing editor and now editor, there was one call I always made when it came to wanting something drawn in cartoon format. His images appeared on some of our sports publication covers or special features and many times on the editorial page. They found their way to t-shirts, office walls and mantles.
I could give him an idea and he ran with it, usually turning it into a masterpiece and far better than anything I could have envisioned. Dave Taylor was a talented individual. He could have made a living as a newspaper cartoonist, there’s no question in my mind.
“There are many excellent artists who cannot do cartoon art, but from the day he first started submitting cartoons to The Independent, he displayed a tremendous talent for conveying a message with as few lines as possible that usually would make people laugh or smile, or sometimes even anger them as only cartoonists can do,” said John Cannon, the opinion page editor of The Independent.
Dave was opinionated and his cartoons could have a biting edge. They often stirred conversation, which was exactly the idea.
But he was much more than a great cartoonist. Dave was a solid guy in all areas of life. He was a family man, devoted husband and spiritual leader in the home. You always knew where Dave Taylor stood and that’s a trait that commanded respect from anyone who encountered him.
He loved his family and was so proud of his boys — Tim, Andy and Danny — in all their achievements. His wife, Sonja, was the love of his life, a sweet lady who made space and time for her husband’s passion for drawing. You could always tell how much in love they were if you saw them out together. They were soulmates, no doubt about it.
His boys were outstanding athletes at Boyd County High School and Dave Taylor was a proud supporter of the Lions. Always. But he was a proud supporter of any area team that did well, a trait that not everybody shares.
In 1990, when Ashland won the state football championship, it was Dave Taylor who supplied us with several hundred signed prints celebrating the Tomcats’ significiant achievement. We sold them with proceeds going to charity.
For a couple of years, his “Goobers” cartoon series appeared in our Sunday sports section that was devoted to youth sports. You simply fell in love with these little fellas each and every week.
Dave never asked for payment of his work and for this newspaper to have such a talented cartoonist at our disposal that we could not have otherwise afforded was a true blessing.
He also did me many personal favors, including a couple of cartoons that are proudly displayed on my wall at work.
Last spring, when Rose Hill’s safety patrol was preparing for the trip to Washington, he made us images to put on t-shirts with the four students who were making the trip’s likeness on them. The kids loved them and so did everyone else who saw them.
Just recently, he called to tell me about going to the 50th reunion of his high school football team in 1962 in Clarksville, Ind. He played on that first team and was so proud. We talked about it and I included it as a note in a recent column. I’m sure glad I did given what transpired just a few weeks later. None of us saw that coming, not even ol’ Dave.
During the time when his sons were playing sports at Boyd County is when I got to know Dave the best. He cheered his heart out for the Lions but always had a way of looking at things in the best light possible. He loved his family more than anything and it showed in everything he did.
Dave was also a man of God and that will surely give his family grace in the difficult days ahead. They will miss him so much.
Dave Taylor’s cartoons will be missed by this newspaper but the man behind the colored pencils is who I’m going to miss the most. His big laugh, his smile, his uplifting phone calls ... they were all part of the package.
Rest in peace my friend and thanks for everything. You were truly a treasure to know.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.