Iowa State Fans Pay Tribute to Taylor

‘Don't cry because it ended, smile because it happened.' That phrase, originally coined by Iowa State women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly and repeated by football head man Dan McCarney, would have best described a memorial service held for Pete Taylor Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.

Numerous friends, family, coaches and administrators gathered to pay tribute to the late Cyclone football and men's basketball play-by-play man of 33 years.

"We're hear to celebrate Pete's great life and how it impacted all of ours," said McCarney, who fought back tears and a trembling voice throughout his tribute. "I have told my football team a lot of times that showing emotion is not a sign of weakness if you really care about someone. Well, Pete's passing has thrown a lot of our emotions off the charts because of what he meant to all of us. We all lost a best friend.

"Whether you gave 50 cents or $50,000 he treated you the same. Whether you came to two games or 25 years of games, you always walked away from Pete Taylor with a smile on your face. He was a mentor, a friend and role model for me. Both us had 1,000 percent loyalty and love for Iowa State University and considered it an honor to be a part of the Cyclone family.

To honor Taylor's contributions to the football program, McCarney announced that ISU's 2003 uniforms will have initials ‘P.T.' included on them.

McCarney, men's basketball coach Larry Eustachy, athletic director Bruce Van De Velde, Taylor's long-time radio sidekick Eric Heft and KCCI-TV news anchor and long-time friend Kevin Cooney were the keynote speakers during Sunday's memorial service, which also included prayers from student-athletes Jake Sullivan (basketball) and Matt Bockes (football).

"Thousands of Cyclone fans across the country identified with him," said Van De Velde. "Without a doubt, Pete will be profoundly missed, but he will never be forgotten."

One of Taylor's long-time friends and colleagues, WOI-TV sports director John Walters produced a video tribute that left many in attendance laughing and crying at the same time. Among one of the more memorable clips included a television interview with Taylor and basketball coaches Johnny Orr and Bob Knight.

The video also paid tribute to Taylor's work as a play-by-play man, with memorable calls from his 33 years calling Iowa State games.

"Pete possessed great talent as a broadcaster," said Heft, a former ISU basketball player who recalled his first home game at ISU being Taylor's first doing play-by-play. "He made his listeners feel a part of the action. With his play by play style, you never had to wonder what was really going on. He never insulted the intelligence of his listeners by putting some spin on things when they weren't going well. Pete would let you know what's happening.

"Broadcasters with Pete's talent in a market like Des Moines or here in Ames often look to move on to positions in other places that are considered better jobs. That was never on Pete's agenda. He didn't aspire to broadcast games for Alabama, the Kansas City Chiefs or Denver Nuggets. As far as Pete was concerned, broadcasting Cyclone football and basketball was as good as it got. If we think about it, Pete's belief in Iowa State as a destination is the cornerstone of his legacy. It wasn't a stepping stone to a better job, it was his preferred destination."

Taylor grew particularly close to Eustachy in their four-plus year relationship as announcer and coach. Eustachy provided his usual dose of dry humor that left the crowd laughing and crying at the same time. He told stories of Taylor's dog swallowing a bar of soap to the announcer slipping and falling on a treadmill only to lose his pants after jamming them in the machine.

"The best way to describe Pete Taylor is after you were with him an hour, he'd listen to you and talk about you, then let you talk the rest of the hour," said Eustachy. "He was an unbelievable sounding board. I've gone through a lot of guilt the past few days. Judy (Pete's wife), I've come to the resolution that that's who Pete was and that's what he wanted. I do apologize for disrupting your household and calling every night."

McCarney summed up his speech, and the memory and legacy of Taylor well, when he said, ‘They say sometimes you don't appreciate some people until they're gone, but that wasn't the case with Pete Taylor because we appreciated him every day we had him with us. How fortunate we were all to have this unique man that brought us all this joy.'

The long-time Cyclone broadcaster will be laid to rest Monday after his funeral at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines.


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