Corinne Dixon Taylor, 113; Family Helped Build SE

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 23, 2007

When Corinne Dixon Taylor was born, President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland were just settling into the White House, Frederick Douglass was spending much of his time in retirement at Cedar Hill, his Anacostia home, and members of the Washington Senators baseball team were getting their season underway by attending church.

Mrs. Taylor, who died Feb. 14 at Greater Southeast Community Hospital, was 113 years and 10 months old. At the time of her death, she was the oldest known person in the District and one of the oldest people in the world.

She was born April 2, 1893, in Anacostia, the third of six children. She grew up in the old T Street Hill area of Southeast Washington. Her father's father was a freed slave. She attended Garfield Elementary School, spent summers with her grandparents in Nanjemoy, near Port Tobacco, and was a student at the old M Street High School, later Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School.

She married John Blakey Taylor Sr., a bricklayer, in 1918, and the couple moved to Boston, where Mrs. Taylor's husband had relatives. They returned to Washington soon after and moved into the Frederick Douglass home, where Mrs. Taylor's father-in-law was the caretaker. Later her brother was the caretaker of the historic site.

After leaving Cedar Hill, Mrs. Taylor and her family lived on Sumner Road, then Howard Road and finally at Angier Place in Anacostia. "She knew all the history of Anacostia," a son said.

At Mrs. Taylor's funeral, a number of acquaintances noted that she and her family were builders, literally and figuratively. Her husband built a number of houses in Anacostia and worked on the Wardman Park Hotel. The Taylors, through their involvement in the everyday affairs of Anacostia, were builders of a community.

"They were a great family, a magnificent part of the neighborhood," said the Rev. William B. Lewis, who conducted the funeral service at St. Philip the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Southeast. Confirmed as an Episcopalian at the National Cathedral, Mrs. Taylor was a longtime member of St. Philip the Evangelist.

She was a homemaker her whole life, raising six sons, cooking and taking care of her husband. In the summer, she enjoyed her home on the Patuxent River, where she spent time with family and friends.

She collected elephants and had accumulated about 300 from around the world. An enthusiastic sports fan, she enjoyed watching bowling and baseball on TV, keeping score in both sports. She also was a devoted follower of TV soap operas, particularly "As the World Turns."

Mrs. Taylor's husband died in 1980. Three sons -- Paul Taylor in 2004, Rutherford Taylor in 2005 and Wendell Taylor in 2006 -- preceded her in death.

Her son, J.B. Taylor, said she had been in relatively good health until shortly before her death. He said he took her to the hospital because she was a little dehydrated. Although no official cause of death has been determined, Taylor said he believed his mother simply decided she had lived long enough.

Survivors include three sons, George Taylor of Cedar Haven, Md., John Blakey "J.B." Taylor Jr. of the District, and Frank Taylor of Fort Washington; 11 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and nine great-great-grandchildren.

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