Published in Clarion Ledger from July 20 to July 22, 2017
Rowan Hurt Taylor
Rowan Hurt Taylor died Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Services
will be held at 2:30 on Saturday, July 22, at Covenant
Presbyterian Church. Visitation will be at 1:00 in the church.
The son of Lillie Belle Rowan and Oscar Bomar Taylor,
Rowan was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on January
Rowan was a graduate of the Jackson public schools.
He attended Power School, Bailey Junior High (designed by the father of his friend Bob
Overstreet), and Central High School (1942). For an interval during the Great
Depression, he was a student in Washington D.C., where his father was general counsel
for the Home Owners' Loan Corporation. In D.C., he was lucky to see an FDR inaugural
parade from a window in the Willard Hotel restaurant and to attend many a Washington
Senators baseball game. Eventually, he studied as an undergraduate at Mississippi
State University, where he had the experience of living in "Old Main."
As soon as he was old enough after the outbreak of World War II, Rowan volunteered for
service in the U.S. Navy and trained as an officer at the midshipman's school in Chicago.
He then served on a destroyer escort in the Pacific and, as a radar officer, helped his
shipmates to survive kamikaze attacks.
After the war, Rowan returned home, married, and became the father of two children,
Rowan Jr. and Julie. Having received a degree in physics from Mississippi College,
Rowan later earned a J.D. from the Jackson School of Law.
He spent his professional life at Mississippi Valley Title, where he became Chairman
and CEO after his father retired from those positions. From the start, Rowan was both a
business and community leader. He was a longtime member of the Board of Directors of
Trustmark Bank, Sanderson Farms, and St. Dominic Health Services. He served as
chairman or president of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Jackson Symphony
Orchestra Association, the Jackson Junior Bar Association, the Jackson Metropolitan
YMCA, the Country Club of Jackson, the United Way of Jackson, the Capital City
Commission, and the Mississippi chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Rowan was a
founding member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and chaired the Building
Commission for the beautiful structure that became its home on Ridgewood Road.
Rowan was deeply grateful for his education in public schools and devoted his time and
talents to education in his native city and native state. He served on the Education
Committee of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce in 1968-69 and was chosen for the
ten-person committee designated to develop a desegregation plan for the Jackson
Public Schools. The resultant plan, presented to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, was
approved and implemented. Rowan later became Chairman of the Board of the Jackson
Public School system. Subsequently, he was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the
State Board of Education and then to fill a full eight-year term on that board, which he
would go on to chair. In addition to working for grades K-12, Rowan devoted time to
institutions of higher learning, serving on the Board of Trustees of Millsaps College and
on the Board of Directors for the Development Foundation of Mississippi State
Rowan's love of education made him an avid reader of eclectic texts and took him back
to the classroom periodically, both throughout his career and after his retirement. He
received an M.B.A. from Mississippi College in 1975 and an M.A. in History from
Mississippi State University in 1998. He also participated in Leadership Seminars in the
Humanities at Millsaps College and met his second wife (Suzanne Marrs) when he took
one of those seminars from her.
Rowan was an avid fan of Mississippi State University baseball, bringing Suzanne into
the fold, and they enjoyed following the Bulldogs at Dudy Noble Field, at SEC venues, in
Hawaii, and on trips to the College World Series. In his fifties Rowan became a
marathon runner and went on to complete twenty-six marathons, including five London
Marathons, three New York Marathons, five New Orleans Marathons, and five
Mississippi Marathons. Rowan's life was enriched by music, particularly popular music
from the thirties and forties, and he loved the companionship of his two dogs, both
He enjoyed travel and sought to introduce his children and grandchildren to that same
pleasure, taking them on trips to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.,
Mexico, England, and Starkville. He took a float trip down the Snake River and made,
along with close friends, fishing trips to the north woods of Minnesota and the Gulf waters
of Florida and Louisiana. He took flying lessons and became an instrument-rated pilot.
He participated in tours of old ballparks led by Smithsonian guides, and he joined
Suzanne on travels to academic conferences in this country and abroad, introducing her
to new places along the way. During the last months of his life, travel was no longer
possible, but he lived contentedly at the Siena Center in St. Catherine's Village, the
beneficiary of loving and devoted care.
Rowan's honors are numerous and include being named: Mississippi College Alumnus
of the Year, Mississippi College School of Law Alumnus of the Year, National Multiple
Sclerosis Humanitarian of the Year, one of the ten outstanding graduates of the Jackson
Public School system selected in 1992, a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Association, and
Honorary Doctor of Public Service by Millsaps College.
The greatest joys of his life were undoubtedly the family and friends to whom he was
devoted and who were devoted to him. He is survived by his wife Suzanne Marrs; by his
son Rowan H. Taylor, Jr. (Connie) and his daughter Julie Spurlin (Paul); by his
grandchildren Katie Taylor, Rowan H. Taylor III (Anna), Mandy Russell (Jonathan), and
Suzy Myers (Chris); and by seven great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Mississippi
State University, Millsaps College, or Covenant Presbyterian Church.