Community loses its ‘Dr. Dave’

Published 1:25 am Sunday, June 27, 2010

Staff Writers

Everyone called him “Dr. Dave.”
Dr. David Thomas Tayloe Sr., 84, died Friday, after devoting much of his life to generations of area children, according to family and friends.
Tayloe was a Washington pediatrician for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1994, said his son, Dr. David Tayloe Jr., also a pediatrician.
The elder Tayloe must have treated thousands of young patients in his career, the son agreed.
“It’s real hard to estimate because he saw people all the way out to the Outer Banks,” he said. “He was practicing before Greenville and the (Brody School of Medicine) really became a force. He took care of a really large geographic area.”
When Tayloe began practicing here there was no pediatrician in Plymouth, Williamston or in neighboring Hyde County, according to Geneva Morgan, a nurse who worked with “Dr. Dave” for approximately four decades.
“I would say he was just a good Christian man and was great with his patients and they loved him, and he still has a lot of contacts with former patients, parents and grandparents,” Morgan said. “He was family oriented, black and white — it didn’t matter. He was good to everybody.”
Three-quarters of Tayloe’s patients didn’t have appointments, and some couldn’t afford to pay, but none would be turned away, Morgan related.
“We never closed at five o’clock,” she said.
Tayloe continued a long family tradition of service in medicine, confirmed his first cousin, Dr. Josh Tayloe, a Washington obstetrician.
“I delivered them and he took care of them,” the cousin remarked.
He added, “He was here for a long time and he was an absolutely wonderful pediatrician. He was a wonderful Christian friend of so many, and he did a lot for a lot of people. He was well loved by many.”
The son said his father was part of a five- or six-generation tradition of Tayloe doctors, adding that the older Tayloe’s father and two uncles also were physicians.
The family involvement in medicine dates back to the Civil War, he said.
Tayloe did a great deal to extend what one source referred to as “the Tayloe dynasty” of medical professionals.
According to John Morgan, husband of Geneva Morgan and longtime Beaufort County register of deeds, Tayloe’s father and his two brothers established Tayloe Hospital.
The hospital, on Washington Street, remained open until it was replaced by the new Beaufort County Hospital, now Beaufort County Medical Center, which opened in 1958, John Morgan said.
Dr. Russel Cook of Washington Pediatrics worked with Tayloe for about 14 years before he and Dr. Debbie Ainsworth took over the practice.
“He was a superb pediatrician. None better,” Cook said. “He was very colorful and very straightforward. He took great care of his patients.”
One of “Dr. Dave’s” early patients was Kathy Lynch Simpson.
“He was one of the most unforgettable characters,” she said.
Simpson grew up in Washington, earned a nursing degree and recently moved back home after she retired as a colonel in the Army.
She has memories of Tayloe as a doctor and a fellow medical practitioner.
“I was always scared to death to go into his office,” she said.
Once, Simpson recalls, she didn’t want to go to school and faked an illness.
“Mom called my bluff and took me to Dr. Dave’s office,” she revealed. “I think he knew I was faking it, but he actually covered for me.”
After earning her nursing degree, Simpson returned to Washington and worked in the emergency room at Beaufort County Hospital, occasionally alongside Tayloe.
He showed affection by “hollering” at you, she recalled, and while others were afraid of his outbursts, she was not.
Later when she joined the Army as a nurse, Tayloe was one of her biggest boosters.
“I loved him dearly and I always knew that he loved me,” she said.
Tayloe was the first doctor for generations of children in Beaufort County who are now adults and entering retirement age.
He never forgot his patients and they never forgot him, according to Tom Payne, former Beaufort County clerk of court.
Payne was also one of “Dr. Dave’s” patients when he was growing up in Washington.
Payne, who is active in Rotary club activities across North Carolina, said several of his fellow Rotarians North Carolina always asked about Tayloe every time Payne would see them.
Some even traveled to Washington from elsewhere to visit Tayloe when he was in a nursing home.
“His patients were devoted to him and he was devoted to his patients,” Payne said. “All of us looked up to him when we were growing up and continued to look up to him and care about him as adults.”
Payne added, “He was a fabulous person. Beaufort County’s lost a great friend.”
Downtown Washington merchant Russell Smith, owner of Russell’s Men Shop, was another patient of Tayloe as a child.
“I was always scared to death of him,” Smith said. “He always wore a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a loose-fitting tie. He had those glasses and hair that looked like a mad scientist. He would hold you down until he had done what he needed to do and then he would turn you loose.”
He added, “I also remember he had clown pictures on the wall and I thought they were spooky.”
Tayloe was committed to seeing his young patients until they graduated from high school. After that, they had to find another doctor.
When Smith and his wife had their daughter, Olivia, who is now 25, the little girl was 10 weeks premature and in the nursery at the hospital in Greenville.
Smith remembers that Tayloe would check on Olivia once a week when he was in Greenville, and would call the family regularly to give them updates on the child.
“He kept us encouraged,” Smith said.
Tayloe and his wife, Erin, were longtime friends with local resident Sadie Fowle and her husband.
Fowle and Tayloe, drawn together by grief and friendship after the deaths of their respective spouses, became companions.
Tayloe, who attended St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington, was reportedly something of a biblical scholar.
“He was a very good student of the Old Testament,” Fowle said. “He taught Sunday school both to adults and children.”
According to Fowle, Tayloe had served on what was the Washington City Board of Education and on the Beaufort County Board of Health.
“He comes from this long family of doctors,” Fowle said. “And truly, that was his life. He’ll just be remembered around here with his friends as just a very strong-willed, outspoken person and someone that was worth knowing.”