Mary Magdalene Taylor was the kind of woman people could depend on, whether family members, friends, neighbors or her church. You also got the impression that a perfect stranger would never be turned away by Mary Taylor.
"She really would give you the shirt off her back," said her daughter Tracy Taylor-Barkley. "She helped everybody in need. If there were people in need, she was there."
Mary Taylor, operator of a Nicetown nursing facility, a devoted churchwoman and one of 22 siblings, died Friday of complications from a fall. She was 74 and was living in Conshohocken but had lived for years in East Oak Lane.
"Mary personified family and love," said a niece, Jean Waites-Howard, an evangelist and social worker. "She always thought about others. When she was having serious health difficulties, she would share with me and others how she was praying for others, or how she wanted to visit or see about them.
"She had a generous, loving spirit that will be remembered by all. She was a centerpiece in our family, the glue that brought many of us together."
Mary was born in Lancaster County, W.Va., to Philip Thompson and Muriel Kent. She got her early schooling there and came to Philadelphia in the '60s with her then-husband, Edward Taylor. They later divorced."She was a self-made successful businesswoman," her niece said. "Her financial success enabled her to help many family members over the years."
Her nursing facility, Taylor's Personal Care, on Hunting Park Avenue near Schuyler Street, accepted clients referred by the Department of Public Welfare and other agencies. More than 30 residents with mental problems would be in residence at any given time, and they were well-cared for by Mary and her staff. They couldn't have found a more concerned and loving caretaker.
Mary was a member of Truth Baptist Church in Logan. She was on the board of trustees, held the honorary title of mother of the church and served as a devoted missionary who would preach the word of God to one and all. She made herself available for whatever the church needed doing.
Church members also got to sample her Southern cuisine — fried chicken and fish with all the extras, apple brown betty and upside-down cake — served up at church suppers and other gatherings.
She enjoyed cooking for her family, and Thanksgiving was a big event, crowded with hungry relatives. The family took turns hosting the annual reunions, and they were held in different parts of the country.
Mary also enjoyed traveling, especially cruises to the Caribbean, but she also visited Europe.
Another of her favorite pastimes was clothes-shopping because Mary was always turned out in the latest fashions. She especially loved hats, and a stylish hat in a clothing store could not escape her grasp.
"Friends called her the 'Hat Lady,'?" her daughter said. "She really enjoyed life."
Besides her daughter, she is survived by three sons, Michael E., Barry Lee and Stanley H. Taylor; another daughter, Sorroya Taylor; two sisters, Queen and Isabel; a brother, McKinley Taylor; 13 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Services: 10 a.m. Saturday at Yesha Ministries, 2301 Snyder Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Fernwood Cemetery. n