Retired occupational therapist Nelson Clark remembers "springing" Dr. Mark A. Taylor from his room in Homewood at Martinsburg Nursing Home to go on afternoon joyrides with his friend. Despite Taylor's illness, the two would put the top down in Clark's convertible and cruise to Ritchey's Dairy for vanilla milkshakes, Clark said.
"He was just so, so loving," Clark said. "He was such a fun person to be around. It was just so easy being around Mark."
After suffering through several years of the debilitating effects wrought by Parkinson's disease, Taylor passed away on Thursday. He was 53.
Taylor is survived by his wife, Donna, and their three children, Joshua, 25; Matthew, 23; and Sheri, 21.
Taylor was a "great guy" who remained positive despite his declining health, Donna Taylor said.
The pair married in 1985 after meeting at the University of Maryland, Donna said.
"He was in medical school and I was in nursing," she said.
Even as the disease took its toll on his physical health, her husband remained positive and active, she said.
Taylor's sons Joshua and Matthew both said they remembered their father's love of the outdoors and numerous canoeing and camping trips with their father and uncle.
On one camping trip, Matthew stole their father's sandals and dangled his legs over a patch of poison ivy, Joshua said. When Matthew told his father what he had done Taylor leapt up in an attempt to grab the stolen footwear, Joshua said with a laugh.
Donna said her daughter, Sheri, recalled an afternoon when she was a little girl and her father took off an entire day of work to spend the day with her drawing animals and enjoying a picnic at a nearby farm.
Brinton Shafer, former pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Hollidaysburg, said Taylor was simply a "great man."
Taylor played and sang in the church band every Saturday night at the church's contemporary worship service, Shafer said. Despite his illness, Taylor remained a spiritual and dedicated individual, he said.
"When his disease progressed to the place where he needed significant medicine, Mark changed his medication schedule so that his best time of the week was Saturday night," Shafer said. "He had miserable Fridays and miserable Sundays, but he wanted his best time of the week to be Saturday. He loved the band and loved playing guitar, and really wanted to share his faith."
As a medical professional, Taylor was a distinguished and excellent orthopedic surgeon, his former partner Dr. Joshua Port said.
"He cared about patients," Port said. "He was just a deeply decent person."
Port described Taylor's response to his growing inability to operate as the disease robbed him of his motor control as "intolerable."
While Parkinson's stopped Taylor from practicing surgery, Port said, he continued to be a leader and taught classes at St. Francis University.
"He loved the [medical] field and he loved contributing," Port said.
Taylor contributed off the field and helped to establish the Hollidaysburg Area Youth Football Association, friend and fellow volunteer Shawn McCarl said.
"Mark did medical research, attended community meetings and presented medical aspects of youth football to the parents to reassure them, with proper training and equipment and stuff like that, that the kids would be safe," McCarl said.
Once the league was established, Taylor donated first aid kits and mouth guards, as well as his own time as a volunteer coach, McCarl said.
Taylor's skills went beyond football techniques and strategy - he helped to instill values of sportsmanship and teamwork in the young athletes, McCarl said.
"Our league was blessed with Mark," he said.
As the illness progressed, Taylor retired from medicine and went on to teach before the disease took its toll, Donna said.
But her husband remained positive and cared deeply about his family, she said.
"He was very highly thought of," Donna said, pausing. "A great guy."