Eulogy for Jeanne Taylor

25 October 2016, 3:45 PM
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Jeanne Taylor was a longtime friend and supporter of the United Religions Initiative. This eulogy was delivered by the Right Rev. William E. Swing, URI President and Founding Trustee, at her service at Grace Cathedral, October 24, 2016. Learn more about Jeanne Taylor here.

At the height of the Great Depression, in Holden, Missouri, Jeanne Briscoe was born.  Hard times!  Later on, when she was in high school, she was anything but depressed.  She was on fire.  The Senior Class prom queen, basketball player and cheerleader!   And she was going places! Her face was set in the direction of the Ada Bates School of Drama, and a world of possibilities beyond Kansas City. She was gorgeous, driven and ready for the adventure of life.

A couple of months ago, Jeanne sent me a brief summary of conspicuous moments in her journey.  A few words jumped out at me.  The word “cheerleader”!   The word “Beauty”! And the words “San Francisco!”  Here is what those words evoked in me.

First, “cheerleader.”!  Jeanne was not  a cheerleader; she was the “head” cheerleader. No one was ever more enthusiastic, more loyal, more partisan. If Jeanne backed you, she had your back. Grace Cathedral was pretty grey until Jeanne arrived.  All of a sudden after a Christmas Concert, she had a big banquet at a nearby hotel for hosts of her friends, making sure that they backed Grace. When the United Religions Initiative hardly had a social friend in the world, Jeanne made sure that hundreds of people came to URI’s Annual Circles of Light Gala. Personally, I have to say that Mary Swing and I had so many dinners at the City Club with Jeanne and Wilkes Bashford and dinners at her home. She had the ability of making you feel as though the fans in the stands were screaming for you in support.  Cheerleader!  Head cheerleader!

Second, “Beauty”! Can you imagine Jeanne Briscoe ever losing a beauty contest? I can’t! But her beauty was not just skin deep.  She pursued beauty in design, in arrangements, in relationships, in events, in worship.  No wonder she was drawn to Grace Cathedral.  The majesty in the fabric of this building and the music sounding in its arches.  When King David placed the Ark of the Covenant in a tent and established liturgical protocols, he said these words to the people:  “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (1 Chronicles, 16:29) I think that Jeanne got it backwards and worshipped the Lord in the holiness of beauty.  When I think of Jeanne Taylor, I think of God-inspired beauty.

Third, “San Francisco”!  When Jeanne left Holden, Missouri, sixty some years ago, she did not know her destination, but she trusted that she would recognize it when she arrived.  And San Francisco ended up being her “just right” place. Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral ! “High on a hill, it calls to me.  To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars, the morning fog may fill the air, I don’t care.  Jeanne said, “There is no place I’d rather be.” San Francisco!

There is just one more thing.  Jeanne was so stuck on this place that she said, “I won’t travel again,” wouldn’t even go across the Golden Gate Bridge.  But Jeanne…..that columbarium upstairs is not your last abode. You have one great  journey ahead. I have it on good authority that the graves will be empty and that life will reign.  Thank you, Jesus.  And Happy Trails, Jeanne!  Amen.