Taylor, Leon M. (1916-1999)

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Taylor, Leon M. (1916-1999)

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1916-1999

History

Leon McCord “Tex” Taylor was born on December 15th, 1916 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Mr. Taylor attended Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, Texas, graduating in 1935. In 1955, Taylor became a Trinity Alumnus when he graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in English and a minor in speech and drama. Prior to his tenure as Director of Public Relations at Trinity University, he worked as newspaper columnist, radio announcer, sportscaster, and radio production manager. Taylor also served in Army Intelligence and Air Force Public Relations during World War II. He remained in the Air Force Reserve until his retirement in 1976 as a decorated colonel. According to Trinity Magazine, Taylor was “widely considered the dean of San Antonio public relations”(Trinity Magazine 1999, 14). He was the president of the Central Texas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, president of Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism fraternity, and director of the Southwest District of American College of Public Relations Association.

In 1947, President Monroe Everett created the position of director of public relations. Taylor was recommended for the position by Trinity football coach, Bob Coe, who knew him from his time in the Air Force and described him as “a publicity genius” (Brackenridge 2004, 156). Taylor was quickly appointed to the position and was instrumental to the construction of Trinity University’s public image following the move from the Waxahachie campus to the Skyline campus in 1952.

Taylor’s career at Trinity University spanned forty-one years, half of which took place under the leadership of President James Laurie. Taylor was critical to the process of moving campuses, preparing press releases and planning events, as well as ensuring press coverage. Many of the records in the Tex Taylor Papers document this period of change. In 1970, Taylor was appointed Vice President for University relations and assistant to the president under Duncan Wimpress.

Under Taylor, The Office of Public Relations was responsible for the interpretation and communication of University policies, programs, and goals. The Office also managed advertising, news, publications, special events, and the production of TV and radio programs (Taylor, 1964). During his tenure at Trinity, Taylor was involved in numerous efforts, from influencing the University’s institutional image, to directing programs in fundraising, publicity, and special events. He wrote speeches for the president and other university officials, and prepared and published policy statements and publications for the board of trustees. Taylor was also deeply involved with student life, becoming a pioneering force behind the intercollegiate athletic programs. Taylor was credited with branding such as “University in the Sun”, “the miracle of Trinity Hill”, and “Trinity of Texas”. He wrote and narrated the Trinity University film, “University in the Sun”, which was awarded first prize in its category at the 1961 honors competition of the American College Public Relations Association. He also wrote and staged 40-plus building dedications and managed the university’s $60 million Centennial Development Program.

Taylor experienced a career shift in 1983 when he was appointed Vice president for special services. By the time of his retirement in May 1987, Leon “Tex” Taylor had worked under five presidents, occupied three positions at Trinity, been an associate professor of journalism, and a public relations lecturer. Leon Taylor died on June 25, 1999, in San Antonio and was survived by his wife Juanita Thompson Taylor and his six children.

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Sources

Denny, Mary, ed. 1999. “Leon ‘Tex’ Taylor.” Trinity Magazine, Fall 1999.
Brackenridge, R. Douglas. Trinity University: A Tale of Three Cities. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 2004.

“Public Relations 1964-1965.” 1964 Box 03, Folder 44. Vice President of University Relations, Leon "Tex" Taylor Papers, UA 0014, Series: Correspondence. Coates Library Special Collections & Archives, Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas).

Taylor, Leon. Public Relations 1964-1965, 1964. Leon “Tex” Taylor Papers. Coates Library Special Collections & Archives, Trinity University.

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