content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />

Extravagant Generosity: Herb’s Story

Herb Taylor

April 18, 1893 – May 1, 1978

Our beautiful stained glass sanctuary windows were given to the First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge by Herbert John Taylor and Gloria Forbes Taylor in loving memory of Mr. Taylor’s mother, Mrs. Nellie Salkeld Taylor.  The windows were officially dedicated on March 10, 1940.

So reads the Preface of the pamphlet available in our church office titled “Story Telling Windows.”

Who was Herb Taylor?

Herb was born and raised in Pickford, Michigan, a town of 300 in the Upper Peninsula where his Father founded the telephone and electric company, owned and operated a bank and a lumber supply company as well as a dairy farm. That’s where Herb learned the value and necessity of hard work.

He worked his way through college at Northwestern where he had four jobs including telegraph operator, selling typewriters, selling ad space for the year book and writing sports stories for two Chicago newspapers.

During World War I, Herb served as a naval officer. Shortly after the war, he moved to Oklahoma with his young wife Gloria Forbes, whom he met at Northwestern. In Oklahoma, he worked as a very successful insurance salesman and oil lease broker which included counseling with clients. (He saved at least one marriage.)

He moved to Chicago, Gloria’s home town, to join the Jewel Food Company as an executive and eventually settled in Park Ridge and joined our church. He and Gloria had two daughters, Beverly and Ramona. He was slated to become the President of Jewel but in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, a banker persuaded him to take over a bankrupt aluminum cookware company, Club Aluminum, which he turned around. He made it a huge success and himself very wealthy.

In World War II, Herb again served his country as a “dollar a year” man – part a group of business executives helping the government drive the economy. He became a member of the War Department’s Price Adjustment Board, which prevented companies from profiteering on government contracts.

Herb was a deeply religious person and memorized the Sermon on the Mount and recited it to himself every day. He was intensely interested in young people and started Young Life, a religious movement that swept across campuses in the ‘50’s. He organized the Billy Graham Crusade in Chicago that attracted tens of thousands to religious revival.

Herb became involved in Rotary when he started a club in Oklahoma.  He joined Rotary in Chicago when he moved here and eventually became President of Rotary International. In 1954, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Rotary.

During his time at Club Aluminum, he prayed about what he needed to do and he said that God gave him a simple credo of ethics in answer to his prayers which he used to turn the company around.  Rotary asked if they could also use it.  These words are repeated at every meeting, every week at 32,000 Rotary clubs around the world.  It is a foundational element of Rotary’s commitment to ethics in the things that Rotarians think, say and do:

Is it the truth?

Is it fair to all concerned?

Will it build good will and better friendships?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Herb was in great demand as a speaker and was frequently on the radio.  He wrote a book, “God Has a Plan For You”, which is largely autobiographical.

Herb and Gloria Taylor and their daughters were active members of our church.  Many remember Herb and Gloria, who came to church every week dressed in their finest (he always wore a coat and tie even at home).  Some remember Herb as their Sunday School teacher.

He was a legendary leader committed to following Christ who was extravagantly generous, leaving legacies that we enjoy to this day.  He was truly a giant in his time.