J. Elliott Taylor, ophthalmologist, and physician at Falmouth Hospital for 45 years, died Sunday, January 17, 2021 at home in West Falmouth. He was 90 years old. He was the husband of Julia Campbell Taylor for 56 years.
Son of the late Ethel (Doherty) Taylor and James Damien Taylor. Elliott was born in Cambridge, MA and grew up in Quincy and Dedham, MA. He first lived in Falmouth during the summer following graduation from Harvard College in 1952. He worked in Woods Hole as a hotel busboy and barkeep, awaiting either military draft or acceptance to officer candidate school with the US Navy. He achieved the latter, serving as a lieutenant on a Destroyer-class ship. In later years he marveled at the leadership responsibilities entrusted by the Navy to young men like himself.
Elliott graduated from Boston University School of Medicine in 1961, later specializing in ophthalmology. He opened an ophthalmology practice in Falmouth and joined the Falmouth Hospital staff in 1967, serving as President of the Medical Staff in 1975-6. He enjoyed a long personally and professionally fulfilling partnership with Dr. Timothy Goslee.
Elliott loved his work and frequently proclaimed himself fortunate to have found an honorable profession which helped people, and which he enjoyed doing. As a result, he was among the oldest and longest-serving members of the Falmouth Hospital staff at the time of his retirement in 2012 at age 82.
As his children entered the workforce, he encouraged them to seek a similar strong match between their interests, skills, and work. A favorite after-dinner activity involved a vocation-finding book using the Myers-Briggs personality test, which suggested a slogan about one’s approach to work. All agreed that the book’s suggested slogan for Elliott, “On my honor to do my duty,” was the ideal summation of his work and life.
The practice of ophthalmology - quiet hours poring over delicate objects in a darkened room lit only by a penlight or headlamp - were reflected in his favorite hobbies. He immersed himself in the art and instruments of photography before the digital age. He crafted slide shows to present to an audience of family and friends. Silent hours selecting each individual photographic negative or slide held up to the light, before placing them in the projector carousel, seems to have been half the fun. He prepared for annual fishing trips to Martha’s Vineyard and Maine by studying the craft and perfecting his cast. The same concentration required for performing eye surgery found an outlet in threading translucent lines and attaching lures to a fly-fishing rod.
For 45 years, Elliott would return from thrice-weekly tennis or weight-training sessions at the Falmouth Sports Center and marvel at the beneficial effects of exercise for improving one’s mood. Proud of his regular workouts, on his birthday he insisted on performing an unbroken number of pushups to match his age. He carried on this feat of strength with pushups deep into his 70s.
He enjoyed travel with his wife Julie, especially in later years to Alonissos, Greece. He declared that the best trips involved “the three E’s,” of “education, exercise, and aesthetics.” Longer vacations in later years allowed him to immerse himself in books just for fun, in a way that full-time work had not allowed. He would sometimes surprise a relative with a carefully chosen poem by Yeats or e.e. cummings.
Elliott leaves his sister Carol Taylor Churchill and her husband Newt Churchill and was predeceased by his sister Janet Taylor Hines and her husband Richard Hines.
He was proud of his four children Donald Austin and his wife Kiki Ide of Maplewood, NJ; Katherine Taylor and her husband Thomas Calhoun of West Roxbury, MA; James (Jim) Taylor and his wife Kim Paap Taylor of Chicago, IL and West Falmouth, and Michael Taylor and his wife Barbara Saatkamp Taylor of San Antonio, TX. He delighted in his ten grandchildren Ben, George, Charlie, Susanna, Andrew, Rebecca, Caroline, Elliott, Campbell, and Lizzy – ranging in age from 27 to 10.
His family hopes to hold a celebration of his life at a future time, when large gatherings are possible.
Remembrances in his memory may be made to the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation.