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By Tim Hunt

Barry Taylor: a big heart and a big loss

Uploaded: Nov 20, 2013

The sudden death last weekend of Taylor Family Foundation founder and President Barry Taylor sadly serves as a reminder of just how precious every day is.

Barry, a very successful businessman with a soft heart for people, died of a massive heart attack at the age of 74. He founded and built Taylor Made Business Systems as well as several other companies and set up the foundation with his wife, Elaine, more than 20 years ago.

Elaine was the public face of the foundation and the driving force in establishing Camp Arroyo south of Livermore to give kids with health challenges a quality camping experience. Barry worked alongside and both poured time, talent and treasure into the organization. At a time when they had all of the financial resources they could ever need and could have relaxed into a travelling and country-club lifestyle, they choose to make a difference to kids and their families who really needed help.

Thanks to advances in research, the original focus of the foundation—giving kids with the AIDS virus a camping experience—has been broadened because kids with the virus now are surviving instead of dying young. The camp now is open to kids with health challenges as well as at-risk youth.

The hugely successful Day in the Park fundraiser that has raised more than $1 million for camp operations over the past few years started in the backyard of the Taylor's former home in Lafayette (they have since moved to the San Ramon Valley to be closer to Camp Arroyo).

However, the hospitality that would be common in a backyard party remains at Camp Arroyo despite more than 1,000 guests. Elaine and Barry personally greet guests.

I remember a few years ago on a really hot late August afternoon that Barry was schlepping around umbrellas to be sure that his guests were comfortable in the shade. He was hustling to take care of guests instead of settling into a chair with a glass of wine.
That same do-whatever-it-takes attitude was demonstrated by Elaine. When Broadway Plaza offered the foundation the opportunity to provide gift wrapping services, she was there staffing the booth. Both she and Barry rolled up their sleeves and served alongside their staff.

My condolences to Elaine and her family—Barry was a wonderful partner to her and a leader with a heart well worth emulating.