Jay (John Byron) Taylor Died In November

I received a note last evening from Jeff Taylor, CPA.  Jeff’s brother, Jay, had died back in November and he was following up, settling Jay’s affairs.

Jay and Jeff practiced public accounting together for years—maybe as many as 30 years.  Jay, I’m proud to say was my CPA.  He and I met at Baylor about 1979, studying accounting at the Hankamer School of Business.  We went through Baylor’s fledgling Master of Tax program.  I believe that we were the second class in that program.  Baylor had had a master’s program in Accounting, but Bill Thomas and the Accounting and B-Law Department decided to switch to a Tax Program in 1980.  More about that in another note.

Jay and I studied together frequently; it was a small program, so the few of us, perhaps 7 or 8, got to know each other pretty well.  At the time Hankamer’s physical presence was a mere fraction of its current, sprawling one.  Across the street from Speight, a portable building had been parked.  That portable building, a double-wide trailer, really, housed an office or two and our Tax Library.  It was our number one hangout.

Our number two hangout was a small videogame parlor that faced 5th street.  Jay and I, along with the others, spent many late nights in our little “Tax Library”, punctuated by occasional trips to play videogames.  I don’t remember Jay’s favorites clearly, but I believe that he leaned toward Pac-Man and Frogger—whereas I considered myself more of an afficianado of Space Invaders and Asteroids.

Peter Astbury, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

But, that’s a digression, much like our trips to play videogames.  (We didn’t play much as I was a poor, newly-wed graduate student, and I believe that Jay may have been so as well.)

We lost Mike Goodrich a few years ago, tragically.  Jay, Mike, and I had lots of laughs together in our graduate studies.  Mike was a bit older—and a law student, adding taxation to his law studies at the law school next to Hankamer. 

Jay was a natural in public accounting; he learned the ropes and went forth to serve.  He served the public interest and his clients faithfully for, I’d guess, just under 40 years—a timespan of Biblical proportions.

My dad, Charley, also served as a CPA in public practice for about 40 years, their lives intersecting only recently when Dad began to need help with his financial affairs, including tax planning and preparation.

To succeed in public accounting requires embracing hard work and long hours.  Jay mastered this embrace.  When I spoke to him in October 15th, he told me, with great, I thought, ironic energy that he’d not slept in about 48 hours.  He only told me because I inquired, as usual, about how things were going for him.  Jay had suffered from back issues and some more significant health issues in the past couple of years.  And, yet, here he was, working incredibly long work weeks, culminating in “all-nighters”. 

We had “pulled all-nighters” as grad students.  I recall returning from Hewitt one morning at daybreak, with a freshly-typed paper (or pair of papers) for the two of us.  Of course, in 1981, no microcomputers were around and IBM Selectric typewriters were gaining traction for specialists, but graduate students had to rely on typists.  The nearest one that would suit us was several miles away from the Tax Library.  So, completing a graduate paper, like one for Tax Research, involved writing—carefully and as clearly as possible—and then driving, only to return and to drive again.  Handwrite, drop off, return, review/markup, drop off again, and then return for, hopefully, a clean paper.  And, that was “best case”.  Each step needed to be near-perfect—or, another round ensued.  And, typists charged by the word.

When we spoke October 15 (2020), Jay was his usual self.  He was under the gun to complete his work for clients, and yet, he seemed to have all the time in the world for me.  I always felt guilty for these chats—we had several over the years—right at “tax time”—Jay glad to, me feeling as if I was either keeping him from his serious clients or, at the least, from getting some rest.

Jay always inquired about Helen and the kids—and more recently my dad.  I guess it just came naturally to Jay; he was a great listener, fully engaged, never distracted.  Of course, not all accountants are like Jay.  I distinctly recall working for a partner in my short stint as an intern at Arthur Andersen.  This tax partner had mastered the art of moving about the office daily in such a fashion as to never make eye contact with anyone, nor engage in any conversation outside of his office.

When I took over the Executive MBA program in Lausanne, Switzerland, it was in a bit of disarray, having had no director for several weeks.  There were issues, real and perceived everywhere.  Students, staff, faculty members, and school leaders all needed to speak with me about addressing something.  I thought daily of Jay’s complete engagement, using what he taught me to try my best to fully engage with those I served, blocking out distractions—for the moment.

Jay was a great friend and mentor to me.