Major General (Ret.) Robert C. Taylor passed away peacefully at home on February 10, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. He was born in 1932 to Margaret and Roy Taylor in Danforth, Illinois. He grew up in central Missouri and following his graduation from St. James High School, enlisted in the USAF. During his Air Force career, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, a Master of Science degree from The George Washington University and rose from the enlisted ranks to Major General.
He was a command pilot and flew more than 4,584 hours, primarily in fighter aircraft such as the F-86, F-89, F-102, F-104 and F-4. His flying assignments took him to many bases in the US and overseas in varied capacities.
From 1952 to 1967, he was assigned to fighter squadrons almost exclusively. In 1969 he transferred to George Air Force Base for F-4 training. He subsequently served at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base as commander, 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron and then as assistant deputy commander for operations, 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, completing 140 combat missions.
The general was a graduate of Squadron Officer School (1957), Air Command and Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (1970). While assigned to the Directorate of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, from 1970 to 1972, he was selected for duty as military assistant to Secretary of Defense Melvin E. Laird. He later served in the same capacity for Secretaries Elliot L. Richardson and James R. Schlesinger.
He was assistant deputy (1974), then deputy chief of staff for plans (1975), Pacific Air Forces. In 1977 he became the commander, 314th Air Division, and commander, U.S. Air Forces, Korea, headquartered at Osan Air Base. He assumed duties as director, operations and readiness, Headquarters U.S. Air Force in August 1978. In mid-March 1980, General Taylor was assigned to MacDill Air Force Base as deputy commander of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force which was renamed U.S. Central Command in January 1983. He retired from the Air Force as deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command August 1, 1984.
His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters and Presidential Unit Citation Emblem.
Following his military service, General Taylor spent the next eleven years serving his community in Hillsborough County, Florida. During his time with the county, he held leadership positions in county planning, emergency management and municipal services. In April 1992 he was appointed Director of Strategic Planning/Emergency Department. From March 1993 until his retirement from Hillsborough County in January 1996, General Taylor served as Assistant County Administrator of Municipal Services.
General Taylor was an avid golfer, sailor and tennis player. All through his life he cherished his family and the many friendships he developed through his time in the Air Force and in the local community.
General Taylor is predeceased by his parents, his sister Mary Lile, and his first wife Betty Jean Taylor. He is survived by his wife Shirley Gorgei Taylor; sisters Bobbie Coffman (Marvin) and Donna Wilson (Lantie); daughters Dawn Sanders (Bill), Beverly Miles (Sid), and Nancy Taylor; Step-Grandson David Gorgei (Angela); Grandchildren Scott Lawson (Natalie), James Miles (Becky), Stephen Miles, Jason Sanders (Cecilia) and Michelle Sanders (Kyle); and four great grandchildren.
In keeping with General Taylor’s wishes, a private service will take place at a later date in St. James, Missouri.