August 29, 2022
August 29, 2022
Melendy Spirit Award Recipient Posthumously, 2022
Mary Taylor grew up in Cedar Falls in a family who valued volunteer work, and this value was something Mary carried with her throughout her entire life. She lost her battle with melanoma in October of 2020, but the impacts she made on Cedar Falls are both profound and notable.
Mary attended the University of Iowa and received her Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1987. She held several jobs throughout her life including teaching at Cedar Valley Catholic Schools, Director of University Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Northern Iowa and Director of Development at the Western Home Communities. She succeeded in every one of these roles and made a difference in everything she worked on.
However, the volunteer work Mary did far outnumber the jobs she was employed in. Over 25 community organizations have benefited from Mary’s involvement in some capacity. Cultivating an award-winning Cedar Falls Main Street, through service on the Design and Economic Development Committee’s, is one of Mary’s most important accomplishments. She focused on maintaining the historical integrity of each business while still making them marketable and successful. Being instrumental to, and providing leadership for, saving the Old Post office, was not only a pet project, and award-winning rehab, it was also a catalyst to other historic preservation projects in Cedar Falls. Mary was also an active volunteer in the Cedar Fall’s Author’s Festival, Cedar Trails Partnership, Friends of Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, and was a co-chair of an overnight RAGBRAI stop in Cedar Falls. Providing leadership in each of these endeavors, events or organizations, Mary’s “touch” and impact, is everywhere in the Cedar Falls community.
Mary was always reluctant to accept recognition for the work she performed and was quick to point the spotlight at others. However, this did not stop her from being the recipient of many awards, including the “Volunteer of the Year”.
Mary was always looking for new ways to develop talent and bring people together. She was passionate about lifelong learning and developed several scholarships she assisted with to encourage deserving individuals to continue their education. She encouraged others to join volunteer efforts that best suited each individual persons needs and benefited the organization. Another way Mary continued to help others was through introducing two people to each other that she knew would have a successful relationship with each other.
Because of the dedication and work of Mary Taylor Cedar Falls has become the city it is today. Mary worked diligently to preserve this spirit and make it marketable for the future all while connecting others in a way to help them do the same. The Cedar Falls Community Foundation is honored to award her with one of the 2022 Melendy Spirit Awards for the work she has done for the entire community.