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Iowa men's swimmer Taylor's family history is thick with Hawkeyes

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | FEBRUARY 21, 2013 5:00 AM

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It was 2005, and the Iowa Hawkeye football team was competing in the Capital One Bowl game against LSU. Current Iowa senior swimmer Mitch Taylor remembers sitting alongside his grandfather, Dick Taylor, watching the game, a bond they had with each other.

They watched Drew Tate throw a Hail Mary to Warren Holloway on the final play of the game to beat the Tigers, 30-25.

“I’ll never forget how we both reacted that day,” Taylor said. “When Tate threw the pass and completed it we were jumping around screaming of excitement.”

It would be one of the last moments he had with his grandfather; Dick Taylor passed away the following year. Even after his death, the family continued to learn how decorated of life he had lived.

“It’s unfortunate he can’t be here with us anymore,” Taylor said. “Supporting and watching me.”

Two years after Nile Kinnick was awarded the Heisman Trophy, Dick Taylor joined the Hawkeye football team. A Cedar Rapids native, Taylor rode th bus down to Iowa City daily to play for the Black and Gold and attend school.

Though Dick Taylor never started a game for the Hawkeyes, he gave it his all during practices, bearing the exhaustion of getting beat on by the stronger, bigger guys. He loved every minute of it.

Taylor’s time at Iowa was short lived when he didn’t return the following year. Instead, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the nation was in war, leading him to enlist. While huddled in a large group, the draft officials asked for anyone interested in serving as a weatherman.

Thinking to himself that it sounded like a safe job, Taylor raised his hand. He was immediately shipped to Alaska and for weeks, as they built a weather station from scratch, he slept in tents.

Taylor returned from the war to his home and immediately got a job at a former department store, Armstrong’s, as a shoes salesman. It would be the first and only job Taylor had. He eventually became the vice President of the company.

But Taylor didn’t return from war just as a shoes salesman.

Outside of work, he was a minor-League baseball player, playing catcher for the then-Cedar Rapids Raiders. Taylor told his son, Bob Taylor, that he wasn’t able to make it to the major leagues because his arm wasn’t strong enough to get the ball to second base.

Following Dick Taylor’s death, his sister told Bob that not only did he play football for Iowa, he also played basketball and baseball. Bob Taylor wasn’t able to confirm what his aunt said after attempting research but said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.

“I wouldn’t put it past him,” Bob Taylor said. “He wasn’t much of a bragger. He was a low-key person.”

Now nearly 62 years after Dick Taylor was an Iowa student, his grandson Mitch has followed in his footsteps with being a student-athlete on the men’s swimming team.

“He’s done well. Each year has gotten better and better but this year is by far his best year,” Iowa head swimming coach Marc Long said. “He’s really come into his own here senior year at the right time.”

Mitch Taylor said that if his grandfather were here today he’d expect him to be proud and excited about having another family member as a Hawkeye.

“But more than that, he would be proud of academic accomplishments and the character of not just me but my whole family,” Mitch Taylor said. “The lessons he has passed down will not be forgotten.”


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