Cartoonist Keith J. Taylor found humor in the absurdity of life
“I want to live.” In the weeks leading up to his death, Keith J. Taylor repeated these words to those close to him. And when he couldn’t speak, exhausted from working so hard for a living, he still found ways to share a joke by raising an eyebrow or raising a thumb.
His quick wit and award-winning cartoons found humor and hope in everything from the nonsense of everyday life to the darkest days of American politics. A prolific artist rarely seen without a pen and sketchbook, he completed over 500 sketchbooks between 2016 and 2021 alone.
As the breaking news cartoonist for ChicagoPublicSquare.com since 2018, Taylor has channeled his energy into several Chicago Headline Club Lisagor Awards, Chicago Reader Best of Chicago accolades.
Throughout 50 years of contributing to Chicago art and media, Taylor has produced cartoons and illustrations for Studs Terkel’s WFMT show; American Library Association Forbidden Books Week; the Rhinoceros magazine; Children’s books; and countless other outlets.
Taylor died on December 16 after a long battle with cancer complicated by COVID-19. He was 72 years old.
Taylor’s family is remembered not only for his talent, but also for his love.
“He was clearly proud of the work his children did and the health and spirit of his grandson Shepard,” said his son, Max.
“There was never a time when that pride didn’t shine. It always made you feel that your efforts and talents were extraordinary.”
Taylor shared his passion for art in many ways: teaching and private lessons for years, as president of the Oak Park Art League, and enjoying countless trips to museums and galleries all over the world.
“Dad gave so much so freely and never asked for anything in return,” said Max.
“He loved helping people and being useful. He was always ready to give you what he could: a trick, a gift he thought you might like, designs for absolutely any occasion, whether big or His work ethic inspired me a lot and I owe a great deal of my success as a farmer to his diligence and dedication to his work. “
His greatest joy was finding the love of his life, Rhona Taylor, whom he was married to for 45 years. “They filled the lives of everyone around them with art, curiosity, friendship and laughter,” said Max.
Keith J. Taylor, of Oak Park, was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1949. He graduated in painting and printmaking from the University of Illinois.
His life in Chicago took him from the folk and blues music bars along Lincoln Avenue to a career as a cartoonist and greeting card designer. Along the way he learned graphic design on his own, spending the past 16 years as a desktop editor and resident designer at the National Roofing Contractors Association.
Taylor is survived by his wife Rhona (née Tuchscher); children Nell Taylor (Aaron Hamlin) and Max Taylor (Kerry Manire Taylor); grandson Shepard Taylor; Sister Lynn Tripoli Young; Brother Gary Taylor (Marie Case); and many beloved nieces and nephews, relatives and friends.
Taylor’s generosity extended beyond his death: he donated his body to science to help improve the lives of others.
A virtual memorial will be held on January 15 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Central time. RSVP to Nell Taylor at [email protected] for more details.