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Mary Lyon Foundation Updates

A Lifetime of Advocacy and Support

Gordon and Marion Taylor have supported West County for longer than most of its residents have been alive, leading many initiatives and programs that benefit us all. Through a lifelong commitment to serving a community of friends and neighbors, they’ve made an impact that will continue for generations. Even before Gordon and Marion officially became Mr. and Mrs. Taylor in 1961, their story begins with regional roots that they’ve stayed true to through the decades.

Gordon grew up in Shelbourne, where he worked on the family farm throughout his childhood. Taking his next step, he joined the Blackmer Insurance Agency in 1955 before being called to serve in the U.S. Army the following year. After completing his selfless and patriotic service to our country, Gordon returned to West County and resumed his work at Blackmer before ultimately purchasing the company in 1983.

However, Gordon’s regional investment extends far beyond business ventures. He has dedicated countless precious hours to volunteering, including decades served in various positions in the local, regional, and state Grange organization and Educational Aid Fund, town committees, his church community, and as a staunch advocate for and participant in performing arts.

After growing up in Pittsfield, Marion studied history at UMass Amherst before settling between her home and alma mater in West County. With a wealth of energy and talents to offer the region, Marion taught locally at grade school and university levels before turning to support the Franklin County Girl Scouts as Executive Director.

Once joining Gordon full time at Blackmer, Marion’s volunteer commitments expanded more than ever with a local focus. She gave her time and talents to numerous community organizations such as the Bridge of Flowers, Village Information Center, Shelburne Grange, First Congregational Church, SF Business Association, Senior Center Foundation, and many more. Marion was deservedly honored in 1990 as the Greenfield Recorder’s Franklin County Citizen of the Year.

One of the most transformative volunteer investments the Taylor family made was Marion joining the Mary Lyon Foundation as a founding board member, serving for nine years as president. Gordon and Marion’s life experiences, dating back to their youth, shaped their worldview that working collectively with a common goal allows for better outcomes for all in the community, and the Mary Lyon Foundation was perhaps the most extraordinary form of this perspective.

The Taylor family’s goals with the Foundation were to meet the schools’ need for support at a higher level than local taxpayers could or would provide. The idea was to support field trips, teacher grants, and other scholarships to give students at all levels more opportunities to learn and grow. This support was a natural extension of the family’s support of accessibility in education. Both of their sons and all five of their grandchildren attended public schools and universities, demonstrating the importance they place on public education.

In their own words, “It has been, and continues to be, wonderful to hear of the many projects established and funded through the leadership of Susan Samoriski and Kristen Baker alongside the work of the many other Mary Lyon Foundation workers and volunteers. We have found it to be true that you get back more in return than you give in time and talent. There is a clear need. The Foundation has many things underway, but there are many needs in our community, and ‘many hands do light work.’”

Above all else, Gordon and Marion emphasize the need for sustainability and continuity in support. The Mary Lyon Foundation and our community at-large have lofty goals that will take years of careful planning and execution to achieve, and these targets will inevitably shift over time as needs change. The rural, economic, social, educational, health, and safety challenges we face will continue, and sustainable and continuous support is required to meet these needs. The Taylor family encourages all who are able to give back through financial and volunteer support.

The Mary Lyon Foundation and our entire region is better off because of the generosity of Gordon and Marion Taylor. The Taylor family legacy stretches across decades, woven into the fabric of our community. We are grateful for Gordon and Marion’s quiet impact on our lives and hope their story of commitment will inspire the next generation of volunteers to give back to West County.