Jump to Navigation

Reverend Richard E. Taylor papers

Creator: Taylor, Richard E. (Richard Edgar), 1924-

Date: [ca. 1935-ca. 1992]

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Ms. Coll. 770

Unit ID: 40770

Abstract: The Richard E. Taylor Papers include correspondence, memoranda, copies of legislative bills and amendments, educational pamphlets, letters to the editor, photographs, clippings, house and senate calendars and journals, and other materials documenting Taylor's pro Prohibition and anti-gambling advocacy when he was the leader of Kansans for Life at its Best. The correspondence is between lawyers, legislators, supports, members of Kansans for Life at its Best, the National Council on Alcoholism - Kansas Division, Topeka City Commission, and opponents. Topics include limiting liquor sales, a constitutional amendment to make the Kansas Constitution subject to amendment by popular request, Sunday beer sales, parimutuel gambling, the lottery, and preventing alcohol to be sold by the glass. The files are mostly organized by order by date, while the alphabetical files are organized alphabetically by topic.

Space Required/Quantity:

  • 4.00 Rolled Drawing(s)
  • 4.00 Shoebox(es), Medium
  • 117.00 Document case, 5-inch
  • 4.00 Shoebox(es), Small
  • 11.00 Cubic foot box(es)

Title (Main title): Reverend Richard E. Taylor papers


Biog. Sketch (Full):
Richard Edgar Taylor, Jr., grew up in Enterprise, Kansas, the youngest of six children. His father was a farmer. As a boy, he attended church every Sunday although he disliked Sunday School. There are German Methodist ministers on his mother's side of the family and English Methodist ministers on his father's side. Richard graduated as salutatorian of his class at Enterprise High School in 1942. He then joined the Navy. They sent him to Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina and Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He wanted an engineering degree so the Navy sent him to Northwestern University, where in 1945 he received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering, graduating in the top ten percent of his class.

While in the Navy Richard studied the Bible and memorized scriptures with the Navigators. At age 20, he wanted to do what the "Master" desired. That inclination was strengthened when he read "In His Steps" by Topeka minister, Charles Sheldon. In 1946 after his discharge from the Navy, he worked as a diesel engineer in Wisconsin. He took night classes in the Bible and drove young people to rallies. There he learned about the shortage of Methodist ministers. He then entered the seminary. He received his Master in Theology from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey in 1948. He won an award for being the best preacher in class. He also served as pastor of churches in Pinebrook and Clinton, New Jersey.

In 1948 Richard married Mary Louise Cook, the organist of the Enterprise Church. She was a school teacher. They have three children: Richard is a teacher and father of two; David is an engineer with a pilot's license; and a daughter, Mary. The family lived in Berryton, Kansas in an old farm house that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Taylor's first Kansas assignment as minister was at the Grand Avenue Methodist Church (now United Methodist Church) in Salina. He had hoped to start his ministry in a smaller town. Richard filled the church and it became the fifth largest in that district. He served there from 1950 to 1958. The First Methodist Church (now United Methodist Church) in Concordia was his next assignment. He served there from 1958 to 1966. Many of his members worked for the railroads and he renewed his interest in trains and the railway industry. In 1966 Richard became the pastor of the University Methodist Church (now United Methodist Church) in Wichita, Kansas. He served there from 1966 to 1971. He was pastor there when members of the Wichita State University football team were killed in a Colorado plane crash in October of 1970. That tragedy gave him insights into life. Richard had always been opposed to alcohol but not from personal experience as neither his father nor mother drank. His concern evolved when, as a minister, he saw the effects of drinking on society and his church members.

In 1952 Richard was appointed to the board of directors of Kansas United Dry Forces, an organization of sixty ministers throughout Kansas. He was asked to head this group in 1968 but turned down the offer. In 1970 Kansas was voting on a constitutional amendment on liquor by the drink. He was asked to replace Roy Holloman, head of United Dry Forces, in a televised debate. Richard had never debated, never met his opponent, and never been on television. His opponent was state Senator Norman Gaar. They remained on opposite sides of this debate. Taylor believed that allowing restaurants to serve drinks would result in deaths on the highway. He said voting for alcohol consumption was a vote for the death penalty. Taylor crusaded for state liquor profits to go for alcoholic rehabilitation programs and facilities.

In 1971 Taylor arrived in Topeka as a lobbyist for Kansans for Life at its Best!, a temperance and anti gambling group. He was an effective speaker and had a husky voice. He lost a vocal chord to cancer in 1974 and his voice was reduced to almost a whisper. He believed the best way to keep drivers from drinking is to educate them to its possible dire consequences. Without liquor by the drink, Taylor says Kansas would have higher work productivity, lower unemployment, lower auto insurance, fewer alcohol related traffic deaths and lower alcohol consumption. He and his group also opposed gambling and the lottery. Even though Kansas did adopt a liquor by the drink measure, Taylor still saw victory in no Sunday beer sales, no liquor stores opening in malls or hotel lobbies, no liquor sold on election day, no liquor sales on credit, no wine in grocery stores, drinking at age 21, and no liquor served on airplanes that take off or land in Kansas.

Taylor was also a writer and historian. He helps with the Wagon Ho! Group driving a covered wagon over the Smoky Hill Trail. He was known as the contemporary Carrie Nation who was friendly, warm, compassionate who felt he was called by God to do the job he was doing. He retired in 1991. He worked to restore the Jayhawk Theater where he hoped "In His Steps" would be presented.

He died on 17 February 2012.

Scope and Content

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


Locator Contents
014-08-02-01 to 014-08-02-15  1972-1990 
015-08-01-02 to 015-08-01-03  1935-1965: clippings on alcohol related topics, records from the Anti-Saloon League 
015-08-02-04  1894-1945: Anti-Saloon League records 
015-08-04-01 to 015-10-05-02  1970-1992 
041-11-08-01 to 041-11-08-02  For Rev. Taylor presentation [box label] 
078-06-03-01  Personal letter to Fred A. Victor, New York, NY, from President Franklin Roosevelt, Sept. 12, 1932 
108-01-02-03  Photographs 
110-04-05-02 to 110-04-05-03  A/V material 
122-08-06-03  Part of A/V collection: films 
122-10-06-02 to 122-10-06-05  Part of A/V collection: Audiotapes of TV & radio programs and spots. 
More locators

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials:
Taylor, Richard E. (Richard Edgar), 1924- . Reverend Richard Taylor papers, 1965-1999, 1.5 linear ft. (2 boxes + 1 oversize box), Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas (Lawrence); https://archives.lib.ku.edu/repositories/3/resources/1719

Index Terms


    Anti-saloon League of America
    Kansans for Life at its Best
    Taylor, Richard E. (Richard Edgar), 1924- -- Correspondence
    Clergy -- Kansas
    Gambling -- Law and legislation -- Kansas
    Liquor laws -- Kansas
    Methodist Church -- Clergy
    Prohibitionists -- Kansas
    Social reformers -- Kansas
    Temperance -- Kansas

Creators and Contributors