Priscila Patterson Taylor, 78, died peacefully on April 12, 2023, with her family by her side.
A tireless and passionate advocate and cheerleader, Priscilla dedicated her life to making things better. She focused her efforts on the University of North Carolina system (UNC-Chapel Hill in particular), the committees in which she lived (Greensboro, NC and Chapel Hill, NC), her family and her faith.
Priscilla was born in Abington, PA, on September 4, 1944. She grew up in New Bern, NC, the oldest of four children of Joseph F. Patterson, Jr., MD and Alice M. Patterson, both deceased. The family moved to Chapel Hill, allowing Priscilla to begin Carolina as a “townie” freshman. At that time, women could only transfer as juniors. A stellar student, Priscila earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degree at UND-Chapel Hill. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, and an enthusiastic and proud Carolina cheerleader.
Following her graduation, marriage, and the birth of two daughters, Priscilla immersed herself in many civic activities. She was appointed by the NC Legislature in 1990 to the prestigious UNC Board of Governors. She served a total of 17 years (1990-1994 and 1999-2010), making her the longest serving woman ever on the board. At UNC-Chapel Hill, Priscilla was active on the Carolina Board of Visitors, Carolina Women’s Leadership Council, Chancellor’s Philanthropic Council, Honors Carolina, General Alumni Association Board of Directors, Jordan Institute Community Advisory Board, Graduate School Advisory Board, Friends of the Library Board of Directors, and UNC Children’s Hospital Board of Visitors.
Priscilla lived in Greensboro for 24 years and became involved in many facets of Greensboro’s life. A 2002 newspaper article applauded her influence with a headline that read, “In the Center of Action, Priscilla Taylor Has Energy to Burn, and She Uses It As An Activist for Greensboro”. Her accomplishments included: the founding executive director of The Cemala Foundation, chartered in 1986 by Marth and Ceasar Cone, II; a founder of Action Greensboro and one of its here initial managing partners; and a leader with Action Greensboro and Cemala in creating City Park in Greensboro, a stellar example of public-private partnerships and a unique quality of life asset.
In addition, Priscilla served as president of the YMCA on Greensboro, United Way of Greater Greensboro, and Junior League of Greensboro. She chaired the United Way of Greater Greensboro and The National Conference of Christians and Jews (now North Carolina for Community and Justice). She served on the boards of directors of the Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the Sit-in Museum, and Guilford Community AIDS Partnership and Triad Bank. She was on the Board of Advisors of the Center for Creative Leadership. Priscilla also taught business at UNCG and was a member of the NC A&T State University Board of Trustees and the boards of visitors at Guilford College and Greensboro College. In recognition of her efforts, she received the ATHENA Award for the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.
In Chapel Hill, in addition to her extensive work on behalf of the UNC system and UNC-Chapel Hill, Priscilla helped raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House and was an active member of University Presbyterian Church where she was a Deacon.
Priscilla treasured her family and radiated joy when talking about them. Her two daughters, Amanda and Eliza, and their husbands gave her seven grandchildren whom she adored. She was not a passive grandmother. Instead, “Grandma P” was actively and energetically involved with them. She held Camp Jellybean for them in the summers, spent time together at the beach, attended as many of their games as possible, and cheered on the Carolina Tar Heels together.
Her parents, three siblings and two daughters are all Carolina alumni she called her seven grandchildren “fourth generation Tar Heels-in-training”. Two are already following the family’s “Heel prints”. One is a current student, and another is an incoming freshman next year. Each year since 1924, the Patterson extended family has presented the top student athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill with the Patterson Medal, a true distinction and one which carries great honor and merit among student athletes.
Priscilla’s life was rich and full. She was a wonderful friend, neighbor, community activist and mentor to many young women who looked up to her and the example she set. She was wise, steady and took the long view on life. She was beloved. Priscilla was an optimistic, determined, efficient, and effective visionary seeking always to improve the quality of life for others. She remained a devoted Tar Heel fan her entire life. She attended hundreds of Tar Heel basketball games and when she wasn’t cheering them on in person, she was cheering them on from her house (while pacing around frantically).
Priscilla is survived by her daughter Eliza Taylor Blackwell (husband John) and grandchildren Walter, Ali, and Taylor Blackwell of Wilmington, NC, and her daughter Amanda Taylor Marshall (husband Alex) and grandsons, James, Mac, John, and Brooks Marshall of Chevy Chase, MD. She was preceded in death by former husband, John “Rusty” Taylor, Jr. of Greensboro, NC. Her extended family includes her sister Debbie Hedges of Victor, ID, and her children Tom (wife Laura) of Jackson, WY; Mac (wife Silke) of Los Angele, CA; and Isabelle Haney (husband LB) of Driggs, ID. Also surviving are her brother Joseph Patterson, III, of Chapel Hill, NC; and sister Alyce Twomey (husband Sean) and children Meg of Raleigh, NC; Mary Pat of Washington, DC; and John (wife Carolyn) Twomey of Boulder, CO.
A memorial service for Priscilla will be held on Monday, May 1, 2023, at 3:00 PM, at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill. It will be live streamed for those unable to attend in person.
The family will receive friends after the service in the Fellowship Hall at University Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Priscilla Taylor Memorial Fund at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mail to the Office of University Development, PO Box 309, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514.
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