Memorial Day 2019
A Lifetime, A Legacy:
Former Police Chief Louis Taylor is Remembered as a Kindhearted Family Man
By Marybeth Hagan
Louis “Butch” Taylor in his Avalon police uniform.
Lou Taylor with his brother, Robert Taylor, and sister, Nancy Lloyd.
The late Louis Edward Taylor Jr., a family man of many talents, diligently served others.
Some might recall Lou’s earlier days as a teen mechanic, a teacher, or a U.S. Naval Reserve draftsman serving on a command communications ship, the USS Wright, during the Vietnam era. Others might recollect his later days as an expert computer technician.
Most will remember Lou, affectionately dubbed Butch, as a dedicated member of the Avalon Police Department. Lou rose through the ranks from patrolman in 1971 to lieutenant in 1980 to chief of police from 1989 through 1998. In a dual role as director of public safety, Lou also oversaw the Avalon Beach Patrol.
“Butch always looked out for his people, police and dispatchers,” says Ruth Thraen. Not only that, “he always tried to get the latest technology for them.”
Ruth met then-Lt. Taylor when she first began working as a dispatcher for the Avalon Police in 1980. Friendship developed over time. While working summertime night shifts, they chatted over coffee and Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets during breaks when they were able. Downtime disappeared if the “Magic Bus” rolled into the station, for this old white school bus was packed with young people who were picked up by police for underage drinking.
Lou and Carolyn Taylor.
“Butch was a people person” even with the inebriated, Ruth says of Taylor, who passed away last August at the age of 73. “He never lost his temper. If he did, you knew it was a bad case! Butch calmly handled whatever came his way.”
When major storms or floods came Seven Mile Beach’s way, her buddy would be out there in the midst of it, Ruth reminiscences. If people were stranded by flooding, Butch transported them to safety in his family boat. During storms, department staffers could count on transportation to the station. Butch personally picked them up in a department truck.
As Lou served the community, members of his tight-knit family cared for one another.
Bob Taylor and Nancy Lloyd, Lou’s siblings, recall his request before Hurricane Gloria in 1985. “Take my family and keep them safe,” then-Lt. Taylor said. Just as the Taylor descendants did during triple-family “TaylorLloyd vacations,” family members formed a three-car caravan and slowly maneuvered off Seven Mile Beach.
Lou’s immediate family includes his wife, Carolyn, son Ed (aka Louis Edward Taylor III), daughter Sarah Taylor-Deaks, and Ed’s and Sarah’s spouses and children.
As the loving woman behind the man, “Carolyn held the fort down,” sister-in-law Nancy says. The couple’s meeting in a mixed bowling league at the Rio Lanes led to their marriage of 42 years. Carolyn knew her husband as a “great” man and supported his efforts, near and far. The chief’s spouse passed along that respect for him to their children.
“Dad was always very supportive of us in finding our way,” Sarah says. Whether an old boat that came home with Ed required repairs, or Sarah’s school science project idea needed tweaking, Lou encouraged or pitched in to help. “Dad always read ‘Popular Mechanics,’ ‘Popular Science’ and ‘National Geographic’ magazines,” says Sarah.
Lou Taylor pulling his grandchildren in wagons.
Each fondly remembers weekends on the water with their parents. Saturdays and Sundays were spent fishing on the family boat or sailing and cheering on their father during competitions at the Avalon Yacht Club.
“We were definitely water babies,” says Sarah. So was their dad.
Some of Bob’s fondest childhood memories of his brother include their time spent on the water, especially in their beat-up, about-to-sink-at-any-minute kayak. The pair went underwater other ways. Their father, Louis Edward Taylor Sr., who was a member of the United States Coast Guard, arranged for one of his buddies to teach Bob and Butch deep-sea diving.
Later in life, during Bob’s days as the Cape May County prosecutor, the brothers worked in the same building and enjoyed lunching together almost daily.
After Lou left law enforcement in Avalon, he held positions as a domestic preparedness planner for the Cape May County Emergency Management Office, as an agent in Special Operations and Planning for the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, and as a coordinator for the Cape May County Sheriff’s Office’s Alternative to Incarceration Program.
Law enforcement in New Jersey is a family affair for the Taylor and Lloyd kin. Lou’s son Ed works as a correctional officer. One of Nancy’s sons is a police captain; another son works as an investigator in a county prosecutor’s office.
In his eulogy remarks, Ed talked about the then-“cutting edge” innovations, like the ballistic vest, the counter-sniper squad (SWAT) and computers that his dad introduced to the Avalon Police Department. Plus, Chief Taylor added practical policies, like ensuring that every police officer be certified as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Ed also noted that Lou volunteered on behalf of the Lions Club, the Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children, and more.
Lou and Carolyn Taylor with their two children, their spouses and seven grandchildren.
Of all the hats that his father wore, and all the titles he bore, Ed says his favorite was “Grampy.” Butch’s time with Carolyn’s and his seven grandchildren was treasured. “Dad provided a grandkid oasis for them to play at his and Mom’s house,” his son muses. That oasis includes a dock on the lake for fishing, boats, a swing set, a fire pit and a pool. Ed recalls with a smile: “Dad said, ‘If I knew how great grandkids were, I would have had them before you!’ ”
Avalon’s former police chief had other soft spots. “My dad had a huge heart,” daughter Sarah says. “He was always rescuing somebody or something.”
Butch’s family members all recollect creatures that he nurtured.
Bob describes an osprey egg that the brothers found as boys and how Butch put it under a lightbulb, hatched and raised “Oscar the osprey.” The bird did well until one of those mosquito-control vehicles that sprayed DDT at the shore in the 1960s went by, and Oscar died.
Nancy causes chuckles when she mentions praying mantises that Butch made comfortable in the bedroom he shared with his brother. The creatures bred like crazy. “Mom made them disappear,” she says. “She vacuumed hordes of them.”
Ed says his dad also saved terrapin turtles before it was common practice: “We raised baby turtles that Dad rescued every year at our house.”
His sister Sarah notes how her father, originally not a fan of the breed, immediately loved her little pug upon their first meeting when Bailey, then a 3-pound pup, climbed into Butch’s shirt pocket. As a family, they’d always had German Shepherds: first Chrissy I, then Chrissy II, and finally Duchess.
All remember the day that as police officers, Lou and Steve Sykes (another former Avalon police chief), stopped traffic on Ocean Drive so that a family of ducks could cross safely.
Closer to home, wife Carolyn holds back tears as she describes two ducks out on the lake behind the house, a pair that returns to the Taylors’ property in the springtime year after year. “Butch fed them from the deck,” she says. “They’re back this year. They are looking for Butch.”
To paraphrase Cecil Frances Alexander: All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, Chief Taylor loved and protected them all.