James Van Taylor III, MD

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Dec. 26, 1948 — July 27, 2020

James Van Taylor III, MD, 71 of Wilson, passed peacefully at his home on Monday, July 27, 2020, with his beloved family by his side. He had valiantly battled cancer for two years.

A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, July 31, in Bethel Town Cemetery, 29610 W. Lewis St., Bethel. A celebration of this wonderful man’s life will be held 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at Joyner’s Funeral Home, 4100 Raleigh Road Parkway, Wilson.

Dr. Taylor was born Dec. 26, 1948, in Rocky Mount to James Van Taylor Jr., and Dot Bunting Taylor. He spent his childhood in Bethel, where he attended the Bethel schools and excelled in academics and sports. He was an exceptional athlete. His earliest sport was baseball, where he pitched and played first base in Little League. Basketball was absolutely his favorite sport. His left-handed shots from the left corner were legendary and almost always accurate. He scored 38 points in one game for Bethel High School until the coach, who had held the record, benched him!

Being left-handed in sports was an asset but certainly not true later when he was forced to teach himself how to tie a surgical knot because none of his instructors were left-handed!

Dr. Taylor’s high school years were spent at Woodberry Forest School in Woodberry Forest, Virginia. At class reunions, he was always asked if he still had that famous jump shot. After graduation, Dr. Taylor chose the University of North Carolina and quickly and forever became a True Blue Tar Heel … After graduation, he entered graduate school at East Carolina University where he received his Master of Science degree.

Jim married his high school sweetheart, Pat Dennis, on July 12, 1975, and two weeks before his death, Dr. Taylor and his wife celebrated their 45th anniversary and renewed their wedding vows.

Medical school brought a move back to Chapel Hill, and a residency in family practice was next in bringing him back to Greenville. Those were very tough years but certainly building blocks for their future and filled with many blessings. In the first week the pride and joy of Dr. Taylor’s life was born, James Van Taylor IV. Oh, what a blessing this child was in those stressful years with their long hours and little sleep.

An offer from the Wilson Clinic to practice medicine was the next and final move. It proved to be the perfect home. For more than 40 years, Dr. Taylor invested his time and energy serving the people of eastern North Carolina. He was known for his compassion, integrity, his strong principles and devotion to his patients and co-workers. He correctly diagnosed and treated thousands of people during his career, and he was so beloved. Many were the days when he would come home with jars of homemade jam, cartons of fresh garden vegetables and fresh baked pies, all gifts from his patents whom he had seen that day. Dr. Taylor’s other great love was his garden and yard. He was never happier than when he was working with his vegetable or mowing the grass. And the weather could never be too hot.

He will be remembered … always with love and respect … and he is worthy of this.

Dr. Taylor is survived by his devoted wife of 45 years, Pat Dennis Taylor; and his beloved son, James Van Taylor IV.

Dr. Taylor is also survived by his first cousins, Vance Bunting Taylor, and wife Sue, Sally Ann Atkinson and husband Ed, Sue Noble McKinley, William Taylor Carson and wife Linda; and numerous other cousins and his family by marriage who adored him, and he them, and who have loved and supported him through his journey of life.

In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials in Dr. Taylor’s memory to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 1465, Wilson, NC 27894 or Bethel United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 207, Bethel, NC 27812 or to charity of one’s choice.

Condolences directed to Joyner’s Funeral Home and Crematory at www.joyners.net.