Since her childhood on the family farm in Tabor City, Lenore Taylor has been involved in athletics and has seen the difference sports can make in the lives of young people.
“My entire family was into athletics, and from the time you were old enough, you would run and play behind the stands at the high school football games on Friday night,” Taylor said. “And then when you were a little bit older, you joined all the teams you could,” said Taylor, a cheerleader, softball and basketball player during her youth.
That upbringing and her 50-year marriage to Dick Taylor — an outstanding high school and college athlete who went on to a successful career in business until his death in May 2022 — were at the root of the Taylors’ affinity for college athletics. But their relationship with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, just miles from their home in Lumberton, inspired the couple to make a $100,000 gift to establish the Lenore and Dick Taylor Endowed Scholarship at UNCP. The scholarship will support student-athletes in the sports of men’s and women’s cross country and track and field, as well as men’s basketball.
“We’ve enjoyed everything about our association with UNC Pembroke through the years,” Lenore Taylor said. “Dick was always thinking about education, and we both knew how important the university was to this area. We wanted to make this gift because it’s the right thing to do and will help students. Pembroke has been a good fit for us.”
“The Lenore and Dick Taylor Scholarship is the latest example of this remarkable couple’s support for UNCP through the years,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “Whether serving on boards, attending campus events, or advocating for UNCP across the state, the Taylors never wavered in their commitment to this university. I am grateful for their generous gift to support UNCP student-athletes. Excellent athletes in their own right, Lenore and Dick, have seen the power of education and athletics to positively change students’ lives. This scholarship ensures countless young men and women will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams at UNCP.”
The Taylors have been faithful supporters and leaders at UNCP for years. Dick and Lenore served on the UNCP Foundation Board of Directors and have been members of the Braves Club. The Dick and Lenore Taylor Track is named in their honor at Grace P. Johnson Stadium. Dick Taylor also served on the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees and the UNC System Board of Governors and was part of the effort to bring football back to UNCP in 2007.
Dick Taylor attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a star track athlete and still appears in the Tar Heels’ record book as part of the team that set a world record in 1949 with a time of 58.6 seconds in the shuttle hurdle relay event. The track at UNC’s Eddie Smith Field House is named for him.
After graduation, Dick Taylor embarked on a career that eventually brought him to Lumberton, where he established a successful insurance and real estate business and an automobile dealership.
Lenore Taylor is devoted to the Lumberton and Robeson County community. She was an ambassador and volunteer with the Girl Scouts for over 20 years. She served as a hospital volunteer and, along with Dick, faithfully supported and attended Trinity Episcopal Church in Lumberton.
Lenore admits their service to UNCP and other community organizations occasionally stretched the limits of what could be packed into a day.
“This sounds unbelievable, but there were times that one of us was at UNCP every day, Monday through Friday, attending one meeting or another,” Lenore said. “If I commit myself, and Dick was the same way, I will give you 110%.”
At UNCP, the Taylors have been gratified to see new generations of students benefit from participation in athletics, just as they did in their youth.
“Dick was a great athlete, and he knew the value of athletics,” Lenore said. “We’ve seen young men and women grow from their involvement in athletics at Pembroke. Athletics teaches you discipline, how to win and lose, how to be on time, how to take care of yourself.”
She believes future student-athletes who receive the Lenore and Dick Taylor Endowed Scholarship will leave UNCP well-equipped to lead consequential, meaningful lives of service in Robeson County and beyond.
“It’s why we wanted to establish this scholarship. Those students are going to be in the workforce, in communities everywhere. Their success will be the best return on our investment we could ask for.”
To support UNCP student-athletes with an additional gift to the Lenore and Dick Taylor Scholarship, learn more about starting your scholarship, or find out how to join the Braves Club, contact Tyler Johnson, executive director of the Braves Club, at email@example.com.