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Robert R. Taylor

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Robert R. Taylor, husband, father, grandfather, consummate entrepreneur and consumer product visionary, died August 29, 2013, Newport Beach, Calif., after a long cancer battle. He joins his son David, who predeceased him. Survived by his wife Mary Kay, Newport Beach; daughters Karen Brandvold and Lori (David F. Lawrence, Jr.) Lawrence, of Cherry Hills; grandchildren Davis, Elise, Dustin and Madeline Brandvold; David T. and Jordan M. Lawrence. Living by the quote, "Whatever the mind of man can conceive, he can achieve," he started and sold 14 iconic consumer product businesses, from SoftSoap to Calvin Klein fragrance lines Obsession and Eternity. Taylor started his first company, Village Bath Products, when he was 28 with hand-rolled soaps, growing it into consumer products powerhouse Minnetonka Corp. Credited with marketing concepts, including the first liquid hand soap with a pump, SoftSoap; the first anti-plaque toothpaste delivered with a pump, Check-Up; the first fruit-fragranced shampoos; and the development of the home fragrance phenomenon under the name of Claire Burke, a small maker of potpourri he acquired and developed. In 1980, Taylor's Minnetonka Corp. acquired an ailing Calvin Klein Cosmetics. He and his team developed the Obsession fragrance with the industry's largest and most provocative ad campaign, and then repeated the success with the Eternity fragrance. After retirement lasting "two minutes," he went on to create Graham Webb International with noted hairstylist Graham Webb, and Monterey Bay Clothing Company. In recent years served as chairman and CEO of Robert Taylor Companies, continuing his involvement in business and philanthropic ventures. Recipient of many awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year by the Stanford Business School Association of the Twin Cities in 1972, and Marketer of the Year by the State of Minnesota in 1981. In 2012, he was inducted into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame at Miami University, his alma mater. Member, YPO, Sigma Nu. B.S. in business from Miami University; MBA from Stanford. He enjoyed speaking to colleges and mentoring many young entrepreneurs who contacted him for advice. His business moves have been studied by many business students through a Harvard Business School case study, "Minnetonka Corp.: From SoftSoap to Eternity." Enjoyed life and many friends in Newport Beach and Indian Wells, Calif. with wife Mary Kay; members of Big Canyon Country Club and The Vintage Club. A avid tennis player, he turned to golf later in life. Relished time with family, especially grandchildren, traveling and golf. Bob and Mary Kay were active in charitable organizations involved with youth, health care and education, from the Boys & Girls Clubs - Twin Cities, to Hoag Hospital Foundation in Newport Beach. Helped Miami University's Farmer School of Business build the David R. Taylor Auditorium and establish an endowment fund, both named in David's memory. A celebration of Bob's life will be held at 2 p.m., Nov. 24, 2013, at The Vintage Club, Indian Wells, Calif.


Published in DenverPost.com on Sept. 15, 2013
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