Jerry and Jeanne Taylor were high school sweethearts in North Platte, Nebraska, before life took them in different directions. Twenty-five years later, they reconnected, married, and have been together ever since. Today, they are retired, living in a beautiful home overlooking Ashland and Grizzly Peak.
Although Jerry graduated from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he attended his first two years at Kearney State College in Kearney, Nebraska—a regional public institution very similar to Southern Oregon University. "I had a great small college experience at Kearney State," says Jerry. "I have always had a place in my heart for small colleges that helped kids start their college careers."
Jerry left Nebraska and became a young financial professional at Honeywell, Fairchild Semiconductor, Schlumberger and in 1984 joined Applied Materials as Senior Vice President and CFO. Applied Materials became the world leader in semiconductor fabrication systems and service for the worldwide semiconductor industry. The Taylors became involved in local philanthropy, creating the Taylor Family Foundation that today is managed by the Silicon Valley Charitable Foundation. In 1996, the Taylors bought a second home in Ashland and began spending time in southern Oregon.
It was when they finally moved to Ashland permanently that they realized the great reward of living in a small community. "People are inclusive. People are generous," says Jeanne. "This is a great community with wonderful people."
Today, much of their philanthropic efforts are focused in southern Oregon. The Taylors have helped raise money for SOU in support of Hannon Library, the Schneider Museum of Art, Chamber Music Concerts, the Raider Club, the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center, and the SOU Annual Fund. They also support music scholarships at SOU. The Taylors contribute in other ways, as well. Jeanne has served on the SOU President's Advisory Board, and Jerry has been a member of the Foundation Board.
"I think SOU is becoming better-focused and well-organized," says Jerry. "There's lots of enthusiasm and a great attitude; we're very happy to see SOU's outreach programs strengthen with capable leadership across the organization."
The Taylors are also active supporters of many excellent Rogue Valley organizations. Jeanne has been a strong supporter and board member of the Ashland YMCA, and the Taylors have become very supportive of La Clinica del Valle, Community Works, the Children's Advocacy Center, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF)—where Jerry is also a board member and the past president of the OSF Foundation.