Taylor L. Willingham, a pioneer in the public engagement field and in National Issues Forums (NIF) work, including her service as a National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) director, passed away on Monday, September 5, 2011 at her home in Salado, Texas, after a year-long battle with kidney cancer.
During her career Taylor designed, organized, and led numerous public engagement projects; taught university courses online; founded Texas Forums, along with her work with the LBJ Presidential Library; worked in the adult literacy field; and wrote about public engagement, just to name a few of her many accomplishments.
The following is a message written by Taylor's mother, June Willingham, announcing Taylor's death, and the establishment of the Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund:
Heaven just became sweeter…
…for the time has come for our shining star, who never had enough time, to make her final journey to eternal life where time has no end. She slipped through the fingers of her loving family at her side, husband and mom and dad, unencumbered at last, in a spiritual body with no more pain or suffering, to her home in the heavens in the evening of September 5, 2011.
On August 17, 1957, this beautiful baby was shoved out into God’s beautiful world, flawed by man. With hands on hips, and head held firm, she assessed the situation and declared, “What we need is deliberative democracy through deliberative dialogue with community engagement learning to manage change through libraries with literacy involvement.” And that was her life’s work.
But alas, her work came to an untimely end in this world. She has moved on to a bigger and better world where there is no need to deliberate democracy, for there is only one party—sitting at the feet of Jesus singing and praising God. This community is already engaged in harmony and in one accord. The Management never changes—He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And everyone can read their own names in the only book—the Book of Life. I wonder which of her names will be recorded there. Taylor? Teri? Terri Lynn? Or Teresa. Doesn’t matter. Taylor by any other name is a child of God.
We invite you to a celebration of her life on September 17, at the Salado United Methodist Church. Taylor loved nature, but her real passion was her work. If you would like to honor her memory and support her passions, you may donate, in lieu of flowers, to:
Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund, to honor her life’s work in a way that comes from her and means she will be remembered for the core of her own passion.
Send check marked for Willingham Legacy Fund to:
National Issues Forums Institute
National Issues Forum 100 Commons Road
Dayton, Ohio 45459
Salado Education Foundation (marked for Willingham Memorial)
P O Box 458
Salado, TX 76571
Attn: Claire Hartman
Thank you all for your loving support during this difficult journey. Your beautiful notes have carried us through, and we will treasure them always as we carry Taylor in our hearts. She will be missed by family and friends.
Terry, Ben, June, Brent, Terri, Ben and Becca