October 12, 2015
I’m deeply grateful for all the kind words of sympathy and condolence that people have been sending in these past two days.
Gertrude Woodard Taylor (1921-2015) was the daughter of a Massachusetts fisherman and the wife of a North Carolina doctor. She devoted her life to her marriage and her five children, four boys and a girl, all born in the span of six years between 1947 and 1953.
She raised us in the home she built in Chapel Hill, NC and, since she never lost her Maritime New England roots, made an annual summer migration to Martha’s Vineyard Island.
Her two homes, in Chapel Hill and Chilmark, were works of art into which she channeled her constant creativity. But she was also an accomplished painter, a weaver (spinning her own yarn), a photographer, a distinguished horticulturist and a killer cook, whose talents in the kitchen were celebrated by anyone fortunate enough to sit at her table. This included the illustrious James Beard who introduced the world to her “Chilmark Bouillabaisse.” Everything she put her hand to became a work of art.
As the wife of the Dean of Medicine at the University of North Carolina, she shouldered the burden of official hostess with a warmth and sophistication that was an invaluable asset to my father, as he built a world-renowned School of Medicine and assembled its faculty.
She ended her days in her simple, elegant cottage overlooking her beloved Stonewall Pond, surrounded by dear friends and four generations of family. As she liked to say: “Life is finite, but love lasts forever…”
(Photos by Jeannie Whitehead, Aboard the Queen Mary 2, 2009)