James “Coach” Taylor, a Charles Town native and former Jefferson County teacher and coach, was as one of four people recently chosen as a West Virginia University Hall of Fame honoree.
Taylor, 86, enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from Charles Town’s racially segregated Page-Jackson High School in 1951. He served in the Korean War from 1951-1955. Afterward, Taylor enrolled in what was then Shepherd College and graduated from Shepherd College with bachelor’s degrees and a Corrective Therapist Certification. He attended graduate school at West Virginia University and earned a master’s degree in 1965.
At Shepherd College, Taylor played football and was the first African American to play on the college’s first undefeated team. While at Shepherd as a teacher’s assistant he taught tumbling and gymnastics and coached boxing and wrestling. Later, he became a teacher at his former high school in Charles Town, where he taught general science, biology and physical education. He also coached football, basketball and track. He went on to teach and coach at the racially integrated junior and high schools where he taught physical education and coached football and basketball. He remained in the Jefferson County School system from 1959-1965.
In 1965 he accepted a teaching position at the new Harpers Ferry Job Corps facility, where he taught math, reading and other classes. He remained at Job Corps until 1972. He was then offered a teaching position at Jefferson High School, where he taught biology, human anatomy and physiology. There, he also coached football, basketball, cross country and track. Taylor was awarded West Virginia High School Track Coach of the Year in 1994. He retired from teaching in 1995.
In September 2000, Taylor was one of four men who founded the Jefferson County Black History Society. He authored two books on American-American history and co-authored six other history books. As a member of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, he teaches adult education classes on the history of African Americans of Jefferson County.
Taylor was married to his wife Dorothy Young Taylor for 64 years, until her death on July 7, 2020. He is the father of two, Cheryl M. Taylor-Lashley and Randall Y. Taylor.