David Taylor, 85, transit executive, WWII fighter pilot

David W. Taylor
David W. Taylor
Posted: June 14, 2010

David W. Taylor, 85, of Athens, Ga., a World War II fighter pilot who returned to Philadelphia to help run his family's bus and trolley lines, died of congestive heart failure Thursday, May 27, at St. Mary's Hospice in Bogart, Ga.

Mr. Taylor was a vice president of operations for the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co., which SEPTA bought in 1970.

A brother, Merritt H. Taylor Jr., president of the family firm from 1960 to 1970, died at 87 on March 26.

Popularly known as the Red Arrow Lines, the firm operated trolleys and buses in Delaware and Montgomery Counties.

The Taylor brothers apparently had an interest in adding diversions to their service.

Among Merritt Taylor's innovations in the 1960s was a bar car, in which drinks were sold, on the rail route through the Main Line to Norristown. And a 1965 Inquirer article about Mr. Taylor carried the headline, "Hip Red Arrow May Soon Mix Bop With Bach."

It reported that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission had approved a Red Arrow application to buy stock in Transportation Musitime Inc., headed by Mr. Taylor. The Inquirer described it as "a corporation formed to sell and lease music reproduction equipment and tapes on transit lines."

The article noted that "commuters on the company's Liberty Liners between 69th Street and Norristown already are being soothed by musical arpeggios and the clickety-clack of the tracks. . . . A spokesman for Red Arrow said the corporation plans to lull travelers with music only. There are no plans for commercial announcements, he said."

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Taylor graduated from the Haverford School in 1941 and completed a semester at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the Army Air Corps.

Based in Foggia, Italy, from 1943 to 1945, Mr. Taylor survived 53 missions as a P-38 pilot, including runs over the heavily defended oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania.

After serving as a deputy wing operations officer with the 15th Air Force, Mr. Taylor returned to classes at MIT, was president of its St. Anthony Hall fraternity, and earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1947.

Mr. Taylor joined the family firm after college and worked there - in jobs such as rebuilding traction motors at the Llanerch car barn - until 1956, when he left to form his own business, said a daughter-in-law, Dale McCreedy.

He moved to McAllen, Texas, for oil exploration, but returned to the Philadelphia area in 1957, continuing as an entrepreneur. He moved to Vero Beach, Fla., in 2005 and to Athens in 2007.

In 2008, Mr. Taylor and a son, Peter, founded HydroCoal Technologies in Athens, Peter said, to make "clean coal affordable."

A former member of the Merion Cricket Club and the Merion Golf Club, Mr. Taylor was a member of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Besides son Peter, Mr. Taylor is survived by his wife, Jeanne; sons Alexander and Carter; and five grandchildren.

A date for services is to be determined for the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr, where he was married in 1949.


Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.

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