2010 DAMA Recipients: Ed Taylor & Sue Taylor, M.D.

Ed Taylor
Class of 1982, 1983 (M.A.)
Dean and Vice Provost, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, University of Washington

Sue Taylor, M.D.
Class of 1982
Physician and District Medical Director,
Group Health, Inc. 

The Couple
“And He shall raise you up on eagle’s wings…bear you on the breath of dawn…Make you to shine like the sun…and hold you in the palm of His hand….”

For Sue (‘82) and Ed (’82,’83 M.A.) Taylor, this quote couldn’t be more fitting. Two lives brought together on Gonzaga’s campus more than 30 years ago all began with a softball mitt.

“I wanted to play but didn’t have a glove,” Ed said. “I surveyed the field and saw a girl in the right outfield who looked like she was pretty nice, so as she walked in at the end of the first inning, I asked if I could borrow hers. She obliged, and that’s how our friendship really started.”

“We were an odd pair for the time,” Ed said. “I was a young black man from central California and she was a young white girl from north Idaho. She was socially awkward, I was painfully shy. She was going nowhere near the social sciences and I wasn’t going anywhere near chemistry.”

But these differences created what would become a lifetime of connectedness between the two. “She was so serious as such a young age that it seemed to be hiding something far more interesting, complex and compassionate,” Ed said.

Ed learned of Gonzaga from his uncle, Father Jack Taylor, a Franciscan priest in Harlem, N.Y. “He told me that I would like Spokane, I would love Gonzaga and that the Jesuits would take care of me,” he said. Ed admits that he “devoted a lot of time to shooting baskets at the local high school gym” but it paid off when he was awarded a basketball scholarship and played all four years during his time at Gonzaga, winning 19 games his senior year. Teammates Ken Anderson, Don Baldwin and John Stockton remain good friends.

Sue learned of Gonzaga when she working at a gas station in north Idaho as a high school student. Sue had discovered she was eligiblefor financial aid through her stepfather’s GI bill and mentioned it to the gas station owner. He had a fondness for GU baseball and encouraged her to apply. So began her path to something greater.

Ed always knew his calling was education. After graduating from Gonzaga with dual degrees in sociology and psychology, Ed earned his master’s in counseling psychology from Gonzaga and completed his Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Washington. Sue graduated from Gonzaga with a chemistry degree, and went on to the University of Washington Medical School and the University of California-San Diego for her internal medicine residency.

Ed acknowledges the pivotal role Sue played in the formation of his post-Gonzaga life. “Sue was studying for the MCAT to get into medical school, and one day she got up and decided to run the Coeur d’Alene Marathon,” he said. “That’s Sue. She puts her mind to something and she’ll just go out and do it. When I finished my basketball career at Gonzaga, I was contacted by an agent who told me I could continue playing in other countries, but not the NBA. I considered it, but went to Sue for advice. She encouraged me to think seriously about what it means to live the life of the mind. It was the best advice I ever received.”

For Sue, one GU class holds a special place in her heart. “Ed and I, along with one of his basketball buddies, decided to take a Christian Marriage course one summer to get our religious studies credits,” she said. “The rest of our classmates were nuns, which at the time seemed pretty humorous. But we learned a lot about the theology of marriage, that being in a relationship was a sacred experience. Ed and I would walk over after class and sit on the bench overlooking Lake Arthur. We seriously pondered the question of married love as a sacrament. We still have those ideals, the well-worn book and continue to feel the blessings of Gonzaga and all those wonderful nuns!”

The Purpose
For the past 15 years, Ed has taught courses and conducted research at the University of Washington where he focuses on education as a moral cause, and as an engine for democracy, equity and justice. “I was taught to think about the social and political foundations of schooling, which led me to teach courses around the moral dimensions of education.”

Five years ago, Ed became the Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “I saw it as an opportunity to work with colleagues to support and enrich student experiences,” he said. “For me the work always comes down to thinking about each individual student and imagining that any one of them could be a Sue Foster or an Ed Taylor – with some desire to be something greater – to be a physician, to struggle with statistics. I want to help each student fulfill that promise.”

After working part time in urgent care at Group Health for 15 years, Sue recently assumed a new administrative role as District Medical Director for Western Washington, where she represents the interest of purchasers of Group Health insurance. “It is a great opportunity for me to improve health care quality, access and affordability at a higher level,” Sue said. “I seek out the compassionate physicians who are mission-driven and who exemplify excellence in their everyday practice. These are the ones we want in the Group Health family.”

The Passion
Ed and Sue have been married 23 years and have two children, a son Bennett, who is an English major, pianist and decathlete for Hampton University in Virginia. Their daughter Evangeline drives an ’84 Volvo diesel that she hopes to run on used cooking oil someday and is a junior at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also studies meditation.

Over the years Ed and Sue have had wonderful opportunities to work together in volunteer capacities. “We had a marvelous, challenging and deeply spiritual education at Gonzaga that brought us close together and fed our call to do some work in the community,” Ed said. One of their proudest accomplishments is when they were selected as YMCA Volunteers of the Year.

The Taylors co-founded Molo Care, a non-profit organization that supports a group of Port Elizabeth township schools. The word “molo” means “hello” in Xhosa, the language spoken by many South Africans in Port Elizabeth. “Our connections with the people we met in South Africa are ongoing,” said Sue. “There is such a deep level of friendship and community with them. It’s permanent, it never ends”.

Ed is also a member of Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees and served on its Board of Regents from 1998-2005. He is a founding board member of the Rainer Scholars Program, serves on the board of Seattle Arts and Lectures, and works with schools throughout the state and region.

 “Like Sue, I am ever inspired and will never forget what it felt like to step on campus with the hope of trying to do some good in this world,” Ed said “To have had others at Gonzaga who lit the path for us along the way – Liz Cole, Fr. Peter Ely, Fr. Kuder, Fr. Nigro, Stan Fairhurst, Fr. Carroll, J.J. Mueller, Fr. Coughlin, Dennis McMinn, Jane Rinehart, Fr. Dave Lee, Dan Fitzgerald – and so many others…it is just overwhelming to think about how much they gave to us, how much they believed in us and so many others. We look back in wonder, humility and deep gratitude. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.

“I like to believe that Sue and I have never forgotten where we’re from and a significant part of where we’re from is Gonzaga,” he said. “We talk about that often, our bookshelf is replete with our early textbooks, and we aspire to live up to what we believe is a high calling of the Jesuit mission. At its core it is humble. It is living a just and decent life; to be loving, caring and earnest. The evidence shows that Sue is most deserving – she has been a deeply committed person, excellent at everything, always striving to do something more, something better. She’s someone who can draw on life’s lessons in ways that inspire me. I just hold onto her coattails.”