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Judge Warren William Taylor January 13, 1926 - January 15, 2023

A Life Remembered!

Judge Warren William (Bill) Taylor passed away Sunday, January 15, 2023 at the age of 97. Bill was born on January 13, 1926 in Cordova, Alaska to Josephine and Warren A. Taylor. Bill grew up in Cordova until moving with his family to Kodiak, Alaska as a teenager. As a youth, Bill was active in the Boy Scouts and spent many days camping all over Kodiak Island. He graduated from Kodiak High School and joined the Navy on September 6, 1944. He was a member of the original crew on the U.S.S. Badoeng Strait. When WWII ended, Bill received an honorable discharge and continued to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve until July 8, 1954.

Bill attended the University of Alaska from 1946 to 1949. He also attended the University of Washington. He was briefly married in the early 50’s. They had two children, Ross and Randy. He went to Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, Tennessee, obtaining a law degree in the spring of 1954. While working and attending law school he met Gloria Jennings, a local schoolteacher. They were married in Lebanon, Tennessee in September of 1953. Once finishing law school, they moved to Fairbanks, where they raised four children Warren, Karla, Scott and Sibyl.

Bill interned in his father’s Fairbanks law practice while preparing for the bar exam. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1955. The attorney general appointed Bill as the District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial District after Alaska was admitted to the Union as the 49th state, He served in that position for two years. He then went into private practice with Bill Boggess, practicing law until he was appointed by Governor Egan to the Fairbanks Superior Court in February 1965.

Bill had dreamed of being a judge from the age of 12. While serving as a judge Bill had many memorable moments. It was not uncommon for him to preside over cases in which his father, Warren A. Taylor was an attorney appearing before him. During one such proceeding, Judge Taylor admonished his father, (known for being quite a character) threatening to hold him in contempt of court. This incident made news as far away as Tennessee, however they got the facts wrong, stating that the judge was father to the attorney being admonished. The real version was a better story.

In the early ’70s, Judge Taylor made National and International News when he empaneled a jury of students from Lathrop High School to sit in judgment of a 16-year-old charged with a violation of drug laws. This created quite a stir at the time. He was clearly ahead of his time as Fairbanks now has a Youth Court in which youth serve as judge, jury and attorney for youth charged with certain crimes.

Off the bench, Bill was very involved in the Fairbanks community. Elected to the North Star Borough assembly he served as the presiding officer of that body for several years. He served as the president of the Tanana Valley Bar Association and was a member of the American Legion and the Pioneers of Alaska. He served two years as the President of the Boy Scouts Midnight Sun Council. He was a Den Master for the scouts, and a Scout Master for the Cub Scouts. He served as president of the Denali Elementary PTA, was a trustee at his church and the Sunday School Superintendent for 10 years. He also served on the Executive Council of the Tanana Valley Baptist Association.

Bill enjoyed fishing and would often travel to Valdez for salmon fishing. He also enjoyed fly fishing for rainbow trout. Bill was an avid reader and a solver of crossword puzzles. Another longtime hobby of Bill’s was woodworking. He became quite proficient at building furniture and carving beautiful wall hangings and sculptures. One of his carvings currently hangs in the jury assembly room at the Rabinowitz Courthouse in Fairbanks. His furniture can be found in the homes of family and friends.

Judge Taylor was an avid athlete. He enjoyed cross country skiing, bicycling, canoeing and running. He ran the Equinox Marathon several times, winning his age group (over 50) more than once and setting an age group record. His sporting endeavors became family events; his children actively participated and competed in the same sports. When Bill announced, he was planning to hike the Equinox in 1965, 3 of his children (Warren age 11, Karla age 9, and Scott age 6) insisted on joining Dad, blissfully unaware of what they were getting into. Bill was an active member of Running Club North as well as the Nordic Ski Club. In the winter, the Taylor’s followed the cross-country ski trails. Bill officiated at many high school ski races giving him a front row seat while his children were racing.

The family enjoyed canoeing, frequently participating in canoe races on the Chena River. The Taylor family loved adventure, and went camping, canoeing and hiking throughout Alaska. They went on bi- annual road trips to Tennessee to visit their Jennings relatives. This was back when the Alcan was a gravel, pothole ridden, “highway.” The trip always included at least one flat tire and several rock chips in the windshield. With nothing but miles of road ahead, Dad would invent games to keep the kids entertained.

After 20 years on the bench, Bill retired in 1985, and moved to Friday Harbor, Washington. He married Dorothy Rogers and spent many years traveling and sailing. The couple would often snowbird in Yuma, Arizona. They moved to Anacortes, Washington in 1997. Bill loved the sea. He and Dorothy enjoyed sailing on their boat, The Prelude. Following Dorothy’s death, Bill married Jennifer Weatheral. Even well up in his 90s, Bill continued to play golf, and enjoyed walking around his neighborhood and working out in the pool. Bill was a member of the Anacortes chapter of the American Legion.

Judge Taylor was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Betty Larson, and sons Ross Taylor and Scott Taylor. He is survived by wife Jennifer, his children Randy, Warren, Karla (Scooter), Sibyl (Gary), grandchildren Cody Welch, Kaitlin (Nathan) Cox, Kara Welch, Colin Taylor, Alex (Jeneva) Johnson, Kira Johnson, Jamie (Kristin) Welch and great- grandchildren Cyrus, Maya, Josiah and Ezra.

A memorial service is planned for February 24, 2023, at 1pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Anacortes, Washington. Judge Taylor will be laid to rest at Northern Lights Cemetery in Fairbanks, Alaska at a later date and time. Please bookmark his memorial site link to check for updates.

To share memories of Judge Taylor, please visit www.evanschapel.com/obituary/judge-taylor.