Published: February 28, 2023
ENDICOTT, N.Y. – Douglas Warren Taylor passed away on February 6, of complications from long-Covid, at the age of 76.
Doug was born in St. Louis, Mo., on August 16, 1945, the second of four sons of Warren “Bud” Taylor and Sarah Virginia “Ginny” Winter. The family moved to Ladue, Mo., and Doug graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School in 1964. Four years later, he graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied fine arts. A Master of Science in Design followed, from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
From all accounts, the Taylors were a closely knit family. The four rambunctious boys called themselves “The Tumbling Taylors” and all worked at Chuck-A-Burger, a St. Louis hamburger chain his father cofounded and owned; Doug’s job was to take customers’ orders to their cars while on roller skates.
Doug served in the Army Reserves, achieving the rank of Private First Class before he moved to New York City in 1973. A freelance illustrator, his drawings appeared in several magazines, including Time, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Fortune and Money; he also designed album covers for Mercury Records and published illustrations in children’s books, including Kate McMullan’s (née Hall) Nothing But Soup (Follett, Chicago, 1976). Other titles he illustrated include, all from the Kiddiewinks series, Ways to Say I Love You, The Best Time for a Hug, Things To Do Together and How Do You Feel?
Family members shared that Doug’s passion for antiques “was there from the start.” As a kid, he would go out on trash day and survey the neighborhood, bringing stuff home to his mother’s dismay.
In the early 1990s, Doug and close friend and business partner John Lynch bought a house in Guilford, N.Y. They acquired an old stone Episcopal Church that was across the street where they opened Praiseworthy Antiques; while the church has been sold, John continues Praiseworthy Antiques to this day. They started participating at the Pier and Armory [Antiques] Shows in New York City around 1993 and Praiseworthy Antiques opened a gallery at 106 Lexington Avenue.
The two-story Manhattan gallery, which was briefly featured in this publication in 2002, carried an eclectic inventory that included anything from taxidermy animals, a merry-go-round, a bust of Abraham Lincoln, maps or just about anything Taylor, described by Scudder Smith as “ever full of energy,” found interesting.
Doug’s professional endeavors were wonderfully eclectic. An online newspaper that profiled him in 2021 included as jobs a miniature horse and canary breeder, businessman, realtor and, most recently, a high-end picker. Doug was quoted in the feature as saying, “Most pickers are all about objects of known value that you find in catalogs. I created a niche for myself and bought extremely oddball stuff that I see as art.”
A look at Doug’s Instagram page – @Doug.Taylor.Eye – bears witness to that aesthetic.
“I loved his use of bold colors and lively design,” remembered children’s book author Kate McMullen, who met Doug when he transferred to the high school in Ladue. She recalled him sitting behind her in biology and copying her test answers. A year older than her, he had a car and she recalled the two would drive around St Louis. “We just have been best friends from that point on.”
“One year, for Christmas, I knitted him a pair of argyle socks, which he loved. Over the years, he lost one of them and rather than throw out the remaining sock, he made a diorama, a shrine, to it. He just had a unique approach to everything he did.”
She and Doug shared a love of birds and she sent him the Merlin app he could use to identify them. “He spent his childhood growing up on his uncle’s farm [outside St. Louis]. He loved nature and it affected his art.”
“One nice thing about him; he shared all of his friends. People I never knew became friends because of Doug. I will always remember that he was one of a kind. He embraced being unique.”
“[A week before he died] was the first week in 30 years we haven’t spoken every day,” said another longtime friend, Marion Harris, who met Doug doing the Pier [Antiques] Shows in the 1990s. An antiques dealer who shared Doug’s passion for the odd and unusual, she said Doug “was the most wonderful man, so generous. I will cherish our memories and his legacy and our frequent chats.”
Harris recalled that Doug’s passion for taxidermy provided him with an introduction to the Wyeth family. “Andrew came to his Lexington Avenue shop and, unrecognized by Doug, proceeded to browse for an hour before buying several things. Doug noticed he had paint under his nails and was embarrassed when he learned who it was. Later that day, another customer brought in some Wyeth family ephemera. It was such a coincidence! He called Andrew and said, ‘I think you should have these.’ Doug was invited to Chadds Ford, and they insisted he stay for lunch, where he met Helga. Who else has lunch with Andrew Wyeth?!”
“He was so outgoing, always,” said Doug’s younger brother, Dan. “Even as a young kid, he was always the one of us four who was acting up. My parents were always trying to calm him down. He had this high energy. I was always in awe of his talent as an artist; he’s done such great things. He was the little blonde one, the rest of us all had dark hair. We liked guns and knives, but he was different. He wanted to learn to tap dance, so he did. He was always his own man.”
Dan remembered Doug once brought home a monkey, which he said “drove our mother crazy. He was always pushing the envelope. Everything he did, he did it over the top. Our father was the most enthusiastic man on the planet. He was always very interested and had a very open personality. Doug was a lot like our dad.”
Doug’s niece, Sarah Taylor Asquith, shared the following memory of Doug on Facebook:
“Doug Taylor was the uncle of all uncles. He found beauty and excitement in everything and made friends with everyone wherever he went. He was the first to tell you how great you are and how good you have it. He told stories about his childhood with such vivid details, you’d think it was yesterday. He walked fast and talked faster. Let’s be honest, he talked a lot. If he said something was ‘offbeat,’ you knew that he loved it. He was a gifted artist and a big-time antique dealer, a collector of anything weird and fantastic, from Japanese suits to two-headed reptiles. His last Facebook post was about an old bottle with a dead mouse stuck inside – ‘a rare jewel,’ he said.”
“He moved to NYC the year I was born and kept the same apartment to this day. He liked to remind me how cheap it was. One time he hung a trapeze in his art studio on Lexington Avenue and would swing upside down in front of the big picture window just to get a rise out of people walking by. He bred and sold exotic fish and birds and taught his parrot to bark, howl, cluck and say ‘hello darling.’ When a squirrel jumped through his bedroom window, he thought it was the most wonderful thing and didn’t want it to leave. He could identify all the trees and all the birds and would send me videos talking about them as he walked through the woods. He taught [my 9-year old son] Taylor how a radiometer, a gyroscope and an old movie projector work. He mailed him a three-pound bag of Skittles. I told him that was insane, so he did it again a few months later. It’s safe to say I’ll never know a more eccentric, passionate, wild, fun and positive person. I don’t think I ever heard him complain about one thing.”
Sarah shared with Antiques and The Arts Weekly what she thought Doug would want his legacy to be. “I think he would have wanted to be remembered for his imagination and his attraction to the unusual. He was an entrepreneur in all things creative, from his art to his antiques to his animals, and everything in between. He had an imagination like no other, so everything he did, he took to the artistic extreme. He was a madly gifted illustrator, a crazy-genius collector. He did nothing under the radar, and nothing was basic. He saw everything through a very unique, very imaginative lens.”
Predeceased by his parents, Doug is survived by his brothers David (Dianne) Taylor, Farmington, N.M.; Dan (Elizabeth) Taylor, Redstone, Colo.; and Dean Taylor, Missoula, Mont.; nieces Sarah (Nathan) Asquith, Savannah, Ga., and Sonya (Paul) Moore, Redstone, Colo.; nephews David Taylor, Lake Wylie, S.C., Josh (Tammy) Taylor, Boone, N.C., and Chris (Nicole) Taylor, Durango, Colo; and grand-nieces and grand-nephews Lulu Moore, Taylor Asquith and Keira Taylor, as well as other extended family.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making donations in Doug’s name to The Nature Conservancy. Checks can mailed to 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 22203, with his name in the memo line, by calling 800-628-6860 or by going online, to https://preserve.nature.org/page/81523/donate.
A celebration of Doug’s life will be announced.
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