Columbia Councilman Joe Taylor Jr. dies

Watch WIS News 10 at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 10:29 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Two Columbia City Councilmembers and Columbia City officials confirm Columbia City Councilman Joe Taylor Jr. has died.

He is survived by his wife Amanda Taylor and their two adult children.

The cause of the death is not clear. Richland County Coroner Naida Rutherford told WIS she cannot release any information on the cause of death.

Voters elected Taylor to the District 4 seat in 2021.

His city council biography notes Taylor was a lifelong South Carolina resident.

At age 25, he became president and CEO and eventually built the company into the largest producer of pre-cut log buildings in North America. He sold the company into the private equity market in 2005.

Joe was appointed by Governor Mark Sanford to chair the South Carolina Jobs Economic Development Authority in 2003. In 2006, Governor Sanford appointed him Secretary of Commerce. During his term, South Carolina was recognized as being one of the country’s top business-friendly states and led the Southeast in job recruitment in 2009 and 2010. He led the team that recruited the largest economic development project in state history and the national economic development deal of the year in 2009, The Boeing Company’s selection of Charleston, South Carolina, and the national economic development deal of the year in 2010, First Quality Tissue in Anderson, SC. 2010 continues to rank as the top year in South Carolina history for the number of new jobs recruited to the state. After his term with Commerce ended in 2011, Joe was appointed to the State Infrastructure Bank Board by Senator Hugh Leatherman, and his term ended in February 2019.

He has held or currently holds ownership positions in the ready-mix concrete business, banks, advertising, and various real estate developments.

Joe has served on many corporate, charitable, and educational boards including the Board of Trustees at Wofford College, Synovus Bank of South Carolina, Capital Concrete, and the SC National Guard Foundation. He was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Governor Mark Sanford, an honorary Doctorate from Wofford College, and the Distinguished Service Award from the S.C. Coaches Association. He is married to Amanda Walker Taylor and they have two adult children.

Several national, state and local leaders expressed their condolences:

Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann released a statement, describing Taylor as one of Columbia’s biggest advocates:

“Today, Columbia lost one of her biggest advocates, one of my best friends, Joe E. Taylor, Jr. Joe was a giant in our community. I can think of no person who cared more about Columbia, the Midlands, or South Carolina than Joe. He led with his heart and passion to help others. He was more than a colleague or a friend, he was family. I will deeply miss him and am very grateful to have known him. I ask everyone to keep his family on their hearts, in prayer.”

Governor Henry McMaster announced the statehouse flags will fly at half staff on the day of his funeral:

At-Large City Councilwoman Dr. Aditi Bussells released a statement:

Joe Taylor was a lot of things to a lot of people in our community. But to me, he was a bold, passionate, and caring person, who made me excited about waking up to solve problems facing our city everyday. On days I felt discouraged he would always remind me “tomorrow is a new day, and we will wake up and try again.”

Joe and I couldn’t have been more different on paper in terms of where we come from or how we grew up. However, our love for Columbia and outlook on life was the same: he would not settle for anything but the best for our community, our neighbors, and our family - even if that meant ruffling feathers along the way. I’m grateful to have called him a close friend.

I’ll miss talking to him everyday. I’ll miss his stories, his jokes, and his perspectives on our city’s future. My heart is with Amanda, Ann and John. Our city has experienced a tremendous loss today.

The City of Columbia released this statement, describing his “major impact” on the city:

We are saddened by the passing of Councilman Joe E. Taylor, Jr. This sudden and unexpected loss has had a major impact on our City of Columbia family. During his tenure on City Council, Councilman Taylor was an advocate for business development, particularly as it related to small business owners, and a champion of commerce. He truly believed in the greatness of our city and he was focused on making Columbia better for all citizens. We will miss his leadership and his dedication to our community. Our prayers and sincere condolences are extended to the Taylor family. We ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

Additionally, the Columbia-Richland Fire Department tweeted its condolences:

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce also expressed its sympathies:

A spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Commerce released this statement:

“The South Carolina Department of Commerce is saddened to hear of the passing of former commerce secretary, Joe Taylor. Mr. Taylor was a dedicated public servant whose impact on the state’s economic development community and economy is still felt today and will be for years to come. The agency sends its condolences to the Taylor family during this difficult time.”

The South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick released the following statement:

“Councilman Joe Taylor had the best interest of South Carolina and Columbia in his heart. From being a successful businessman, to Secretary of Commerce and Columbia City Councilman, he was a great supporter and friend to many. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Richland County Administration expressed it condolences:

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis expressed how Taylor will be “deeply missed”:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted out his condolences, describing Taylor as a “good friend” and a “force” in South Carolina.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.