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Betty Taylor

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Betty Carol Taylor

A life well lived for Betty Carol Taylor included traveling the world, making 10 foreign countries her home, making thousands of friends, tasting wonderful cuisine and coming home to ensure nieces and nephews are spoiled rotten.

Betty Carol Taylor, 73, made her home in many places. Born in Dunbarton, South Carolina, moved to Groveland, FL, Washington, D.C. then on to Hong Kong, Beirut, Amman, Tunis, Bonn, Prague, Cyprus, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Brasilia and finally retiring to Tallahassee to be close to family. Her 35 year career in the United States Foreign Service gave her the opportunity for a life of adventure -- from dodging bullets, climbing mountains, meeting heads of state and numerous presidents, to making friends from many cultures and walks of life.

She served the United States as secretary in embassies all over the world, working up to serving as secretary to the ambassador in many countries. She worked for political and career ambassadors--helping them maneuver the diplomatic protocol necessary to serve overseas.

She valued every member of the embassy's community, from security to support staff to officers. She made it her personal mission to celebrate every staff member's birthday with a homemade cake--even when the embassy staff numbered more than 100. Some would request a particular type of cake because she was known as an excellent baker.

She spoke a number of languages,French, Portuguese, German, Cantonese and some middle eastern dialects.

She faced many challengers including the civil war in Beirut. She chose one night to sleep in the bathtub because gunfire sounded nearby. The next morning she found her bed riddled with bullets. She dove into a moving car sent to pick her up from her apartment as the Palestinian Liberation Army marched around the corner. They shot at her vehicle, then took over her apartment building for weeks. She missed being taken hostage by seconds. The PLO lived in her apartment during that time and stole valuables and destroyed everything else. Though she lost all her personal belongings, she remained in Beirut to coordinate the evacuation of Americans from Lebanon. Later she was recognized as foreign secretary of the Year by the US State Department.

In many countries she played the piano or organ for whatever Christian church she attended. One Sunday in Cypress, the organ foot pedals began to play random notes during the service. The men of the church had to relocate a family of some type of rodent before Betty Carol agreed to return to the organ bench.

She survived two bouts of cancer and continued her service overseas. She very much wanted to live life to the fullest. Her reputation as a "fighter" when it came to illness amazed family, doctors and all who knew her.

Upon buying her first home in Tallahassee, she retired in a home full of "museum" items collected from all over the world. But the most prized item in that house was a 6 year old golden retriever named Buster who became a most treasured family member. Their love affair was mutual and grew stronger as time went by. They took excellent care of each other. Buster provided love and companionship each day, just by gently laying his head on her knee and looking up with those chocolate brown eyes.

Betty Carol loved her family. She was first born in the family and her brother Hugh was born 2 years later. Then when she was 13, a sister was born, Janet. She grew up caring for Janet as a sort of second mother. When her brother married and adopted a two year old, Greg, Aunt B was ready to love and spoil her nephew. In later years a niece, Jessica and nephew, Brett arrived. The gifts lavished on these young ones were a demonstration of her love and her need to let them know even when she was in a land far away. Betty and 18-year-old Jessica took a 3-week trip of a lifetime to France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. They slept in a castle, tasted wonderful wines, toured Ann Frank's home and the beaches of Normandy.

When her grand niece and grand nephew were born in recent years, her face lit up at photos. And visits were the best! She could remember their sweet actions and tell the stories to all wiling to hear.

Most recently she lived at Cherry Laurel retirement community, tallahassee, and made dear friends there. She loved her church, John Wesley United Methodist Church, and was active in Evangelism, Celebrate Jesus, Joy Circle and even volunteered in the church office.

She was born May 1, 1941 and graduated to a new and better zip code on July 11, 2014. She is survived by sister Janet Taylor Dennis and husband Craig of Tallahassee, niece Jessica Dennis Pafford (Jim) of Wilmington! NC, nephew Brett Ashley Dennis (Laura) or Tallahassee and nephew Greg Taylor, Denver Colorado. Other survivors include sister in law Shirley Jones Taylor of Denver and precious great niece Mackenzie Rebecca Pafford and great nephew James Ashley (Bo) Pafford of Wilmington, NC.

A celebration of her life is scheduled for Monday, July 14 at 1 pm at John Wesley United Methodist Church. Gifts in memory may be made to John Wesley UMC, 1689 Old St. Augustine Rd, Tallahassee, FL.

Published in Tallahassee Democrat on July 13, 2014
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