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Bruce Cowan Taylor

July 19, 2023

Bruce Cowan TaylorBruce Cowan Taylor, a San Rafael, CA resident, passed away peacefully on July 19, 2023, in Watertown, N.Y. surrounded by family. He passed from congestive heart failure at age 85.

Bruce was born in Manhattan, N. Y. on May 15, 1938, to William Peck Taylor and Willien Cabell Taylor.  Bruce’s father was a tax and real estate attorney for the Henry Phipps family. His mother was a pianist and music teacher. Bruce was the great grandson of Gardner M. Skinner, of Clayton, N.Y., inventor and manufacturer of the Skinner Spoon, a popular 1893 Columbian Exhibition prize-winning fishing lure.  His godmother was Lu Esther T. Mertz, his mother’s best friend, and founding owner of Publisher’s Clearing house. 

Bruce was raised in Sands Point, Long Island. He graduated from Paul D. Schreiber High School in 1956.  He was very proud of the fact that, at the age of 16, he was the youngest National Rifle Association Certified Instructor in the U.S. As a teenager, he was a camp counselor and taught rifle marksmanship and competitive sailing at two different summer camps in Maine: Pokomoke on Lake Sebago and Uncle Bob’s.  In September of 1958, Bruce caught two muskies in one evening off the shore of Grindstone Island, a rare occurrence. Bruce’s photo holding the muskies is displayed with his great grandmother Marianne Skinner’s photo in the Thousand Island Museum in Clayton, NY.

Bruce played the trombone and won many awards when he was in high school.  He was the conductor of his high school concert band and enjoyed the jazz band he formed with his music buddies. He always wanted to be a professional musician in a symphony orchestra and was accepted at Oberlin for college.  Ultimately, he chose to attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and loved his experience there. In addition to being a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity, Bruce was chief photographer for the yearbook and captain of the rifle team. He was very proud that his team whipped West Point in a competition.  Bruce graduated from Bucknell in 1960 with a BA in Political Science and Psychology and many lifelong friends.

After graduation, Bruce commenced his service in the US Army. He was given his choice of duty stations for the Army and chose the Presidio of San Francisco. He loved the army. He ended up in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps with a top- secret clearance.  He tried 40 jury trials in the military tribunal before he went to law school. He achieved the rank of Captain.

Bruce Cowan Taylor 2When he finished active-duty service, Bruce enrolled in Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and won first place in the Moot Court Competition. He transferred to San Francisco Law School and attended nights while working for Central Mutual Insurance Company as a Senior Claims Supervisor. Bruce passed the bar in 1972 and practiced law for 3 years before earning his JD.

Bruce had a successful career in law working primarily as an insurance defense attorney. One of his firms was Healey and Taylor. Always aware of risk, one of his favorite expressions was: “That looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen.” Bruce enjoyed post-doctoral studies at University of California and Harvard University in mediation and alternate dispute resolution. He was a good listener and very persuasive. He loved helping parties settle their cases and resolve their disputes.

Bruce’s life was forever changed when came to Scottsdale, Arizona in 1964. It was then that he was introduced to Lynn O’Malley by his sister-in-law, Anne. After a long- distance courtship, they were married in Phoenix almost 4 years later, on September 1, 1968. Together Bruce and Lynn raised three wonderful children in San Rafael, California. Bruce was active with his children in the YMCA Indian Guides and Indian Princesses programs as well as the Boy Scout Sea Explorers program.  He taught all of them how to waterski, sail, and fish in the St. Lawrence River during the summer vacations at the family’s cottage on Grindstone Island. Bruce loved sitting with family and friends and telling stories; he definitely had the gift of gab. Bruce’s grandkids shared, “Let’s just say Grandad had many stories in his life and he told them A LOT.”

Bruce’s career was the law, but, in his heart, he was a musician and photographer. Bruce taught everyone in his family the fundamentals of photography and shared the joy of capturing precious moments in time. One of his greatest pleasures was sharing beautiful music with family and friends. Bruce was delighted to host the International Piano Competition for Young People the second weekend in September at Maple Grove, his home in Cape Vincent, New York.

Bruce was an active member of Rotary since the 1970s, first with Terra Linda Rotary and then as founding member and President of Marin Evening Rotary. As a childhood polio survivor, he promoted and generously supported Rotary’s Polio Plus world- wide vaccination program.

Bruce loved his family and friends. He was a loyal husband. Bruce leaves behind his devoted wife of 55 years, Lynn Taylor, as well as three children: William Peck Taylor II (Novato, CA), Laura Ann Taylor (Key Biscayne, FL), and Bonnie Katherine Taylor (Novato, CA).  He had eight grandchildren whom he adored: Ryan Mirdadian, Jr. (22); Nicholas Mirdadian (21), Athena Hernandez (18), Thoth Hernandez (16), Phoenix Hernandez (15), Liam Taylor (13), Grant Taylor (8), and Grace Taylor (8). 

Bruce’s family thanks TIERS, Dr. Withington, the EMTs. and the nursing staff at Samaritan Hospital and Hospice Jefferson County for their gracious and loving care of Bruce during his final days.

A memorial service honoring Bruce is planned for family and friends in New York for August 8, 2023, at the Grindstone Island United Methodist Church at 4:00 P.M. A reception celebrating Bruce’s life will follow the service. All are welcome to attend. Transportation will be provided for those attending from the mainland.  A memorial service for Bruce will be held in California in the fall at a date yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers, please send any donations made in Bruce’s memory to one of his favorite charities:  The Marin Symphony, the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Rotary International, the Grindstone Island United Methodist Church, the Grindstone Island Research and Heritage Center, the Cape Vincent Arts Council, Save the River, and the Antique Boat Museum.  Arrangements are entrusted with Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton and online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com.


#8 Anna Pinki Hallberg 2023-08-06 06:25
We are so sorry for your and our loss of Bruce. Bruce was always welcoming us as family members. Anna has lots of memories from the years in San Rafael and with Pinki at Grindstone island. Thank you Bruce for everything.
Pinki and Anna
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#7 Donni Schwartz Roth 2023-07-28 23:46
Bruce and I are thinking of all of the Taylor family as we look back on our visits with Sis and Peck, and Bruce and Lynn. We are grateful for all the connections my parents made possible, and which hold such special meaning. We pray that you find comfort in your own memories, and take stock of all he shared with such multi faceted abilities and affinities. It seems a blessing that you are with the island community, finding some rest next to the beautiful and restorative river. We will miss being at the gathering in person, but we will be with you in spirit and in support. Love to you Lynn
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#6 Arlene/Irwin Taranto 2023-07-27 13:52
Dear Lynn, may it comfort you to know how many caring thoughts are with you at this sad time.
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#5 Karen and Rick Wiley 2023-07-27 08:21
To Lynn and Family,
We were so sorry to hear the sad news of Bruce's passing. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
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#4 Duncan Taylor 2023-07-26 10:55
To Lynn, Will, Laura, and Bonnie--so sorry for the loss of husband, father, and grandfather. Bruce was such a terrific guy, and I recall fondly the time I spent in your San Rafael home many years ago, including some wise and humorous insights from Bruce on the law. You are a wonderful family. Wishing you all some measure of peace and comfort during this time. Much love, Duncan Taylor Jr.
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#3 Eileen Grant 2023-07-25 20:06
I plan to attend the service on Grindstone and I will bring some pictures with me. I have very fond memories of visiting Sis and Peck on Grindstone when we were growing up. Grandpa had no siblings, but he loved his 3 cousins, Sis, Maude and Marianne, dearly. That's where we met Bill and Bruce along with their families. It was always a lot of fun. I learned so much from Bruce's obituary. Wow! I had no idea he was so accomplished in music and marksmanship. His team beat the team from West Point! Very impressive indeed. Rest in peace, Bruce. Deepest sympathy to Lynne and the rest of the family.
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#2 Charles Davis 2023-07-25 15:17
Dear Judge Taylor, so sorry to hear of your husband's passing. I remember him as quite a story teller and quite convincing. He had a certain charisma. His accomplishments are very impressive, but I am sure he was proudest of his children and grandchildren. I am very impressed by those two muskies. You have my deepest condolence. Charlie Davis,
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#1 Sally Grant 2023-07-25 13:35
I didn’t know Bruce that well, but I will always remember meeting him as a little girl. He stood up to shake my hand and his head was in the clouds. After reading about all his accomplishments and the joy he took in teaching his children and grandchildren his favorite hobbies, I feel like I know him better. Many condolences to all his family members, especially to his children and grandchildren. I am the grandchild of Robert and Dorothy Grant.
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