The Rev. Jerry Taylor, a leading advocate for disabled people in Augusta, died Thursday. He was 72.
Taylor, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby, founded the Community Outreach Program for the Handicapped in 1982. The nonprofit helped hundreds of clients build wheelchair ramps, install grab bars, widen doorways or make other home modifications.
“His life demonstrated that simply because your body is shaped differently or moves differently than somebody else is never a reason you can’t achieve what you set your mind to,” said the Rev. Ed Rees, of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.
Taylor’s parents were a driving force behind his accomplishments, Rees said. Doctors said Taylor would never walk or talk, but his parents had him evaluated at a school that specialized in children with disabilities.
The school and his parents encouraged Taylor to do whatever he wanted, Rees said.
Taylor graduated from the Academy of Richmond County in 1960 and later earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s in divinity and master’s of arts in Christian education.
He moved back to Augusta in 1978 and served as a lay pastor at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church. He later affiliated himself with the Presbyterian church.
He also formed Augusta’s Exceptional Bowling League, served on an advisory board for Walton Rehabilitation and led Bible studies at Harison Heights, Rees said.
In October, Taylor led his final communion service at St. Andrew. Though he had lost use of his hands and arms, he still led the prayers and scripture reading with a peaceful spirit, Rees said.
“The thing that drove him all his life was a deep abounding faith in God. This is the way he was made. This is the way he was supposed to live his life,” Rees said. “He was always on the lookout for people to serve.”
Taylor retired from Community Outreach in 2003. He was married to his wife, Louise Taylor, for 32 years.
A memorial service will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. at St. Andrew, with the family receiving friends one hour before. Burial will be private.