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Update on Taylor Willingham

Many of us have been staying up-to-date on Taylor Willingham’s long battle with cancer via her CareFlash site.  News came this morning that hits hard.  Taylor passed away last night.  She was surrounded by family.

Taylor served on the NCDD Board for several years as our Secretary/Treasurer.  She played an instrumental role in several of our conferences as well.  Many know her from her amazing leadership within the National Issues Forums network, and her groundbreaking work with the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin.  She was a force of nature; one of those people who always seems to be upbeat, full of ideas, and full of energy.  The kind of person who keeps you going.

Below is a message from Taylor’s mother, written after she passed.  Please note that donations can be sent to the newly-formed Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund administered by NIFI. Taylor’s good friend Diane Miller sent me this description of the fund:

The Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund has been created to support individuals who are becoming involved in the deliberative democracy movement for the first time and who have the passion, vision and commitment to create opportunities for deliberative dialogue in their organizations and communities. The Fund will be administered by the National Issues Forums Institute, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Be sure to indicate “Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund” on your contribution. Contributions can be sent to National Issues Forums Institute, 100 Commons Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.

Take care, everybody.

Sandy Heierbacher
Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)

Message from Taylor’s mother:

This is Mom, again

Heaven just became sweeter…

…for the time has come for our shining star, who never had enough time, to make her final journey to eternal life where time has no end.  She slipped through the fingers of her loving family at her side, husband and mom and dad, unencumbered at last, in a spiritual body with no more pain or suffering, to her home in the heavens in the evening of September 5, 2011.

On August 17, 1957, this beautiful baby was shoved out into God’s beautiful world, flawed by man.  With hands on hips, and head held firm, she assessed the situation and declared, “What we need is deliberative democracy through deliberative dialogue with community engagement learning to manage change through libraries with literacy involvement.”  And that was her life’s work.

But alas, her work came to an untimely end in this world.  She has moved on to a bigger and better world where there is no need to deliberate democracy, for there is only one party—sitting at the feet of Jesus singing and praising God.  This community is already engaged in harmony and in one accord.  The Management never changes—He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And everyone can read their own names in the only book—the Book of Life.  I wonder which of her names will be recorded there.  Taylor?  Teri?  Terri Lynn? Or Teresa.  Doesn’t matter.  Taylor by any other name is a child of God.

We invite you to a celebration of her life on September 17, at the Salado United Methodist Church.  Taylor loved nature, but her real passion was her work.  If you would like to honor her memory and support her passions, you may donate, in lieu of flowers, to:

Taylor Willingham Legacy Fund, to honor her life’s work in a way that comes from her and means she will be remembered for the core of her own passion.

Send check marked for Willingham Legacy Fund to:

National Issues Forums Institute
National Issues Forum 100 Commons Road
Dayton, Ohio 45459


Salado Education Foundation (marked for Willingham Memorial)
P O Box 458
Salado, TX 76571
Attn:  Claire Hartman

Thank you all for your loving support during this difficult journey.  Your beautiful notes have carried us through, and we will treasure them always as we carry Taylor in our hearts.  She will be missed by family and friends.

With love,
Terry, Ben, June, Brent, Terri, Ben and Becca

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. jamie noelle Mamikunian says:

    I am deeply saddened to hear this. Taylor was a beacon of light for the community and a personal role model for me. If anyone can please contact me about funeral service arrangements I would be most appreciative. jamiemamikunian@gmail.com

    • Roshan Bliss says:

      Yes Jamie, it was very sad and Taylor is missed. But this update and Taylor’s funeral happened in 2011, so the funeral arrangements are long past. If you want to honor Taylor’s memory and work in the field, we encourage you to learn more about the Taylor L. Willingham Legacy Fund at https://www.nifi.org/es/donate/taylor-willingham-legacy-fund.

      • jamie Mamikunian says:

        Thank you very much for your reply. Someone posted that Taylor had passed just two days ago so I thought that this was recent. Taylor was my role model while I worked for literacy in my early 20’s, and she remains one of my favorite souls.

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