In Memory

John Taylor

Johnny died, on 10/28/1970, from severe burns after a plan crash.

Johnny Taylor lost a 26-day battle for life about 5 p.m. Wednesday in a San Antonio hospital.  He died of severe burns over 85 per cent of his body, the result of a fiery plane crash Oct. 2, 1970 in the Colorado Rockies.

The Wichita State (Kansas) University football player had put up a gallant fight for survival, winning the admiration of his physicians and hospital attenants in two states.

Doctors who treated him in Denver and at the U.S. Army's Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio had told the family from the beginning his chances were extremely small.

They said, however, that his strong will to live and his superb physical condition had sustained him for beyond the point where a less-endowed patient would have died.

Young Taylor, 21, died in the intensive care unit of Brooke hospital's center for burn patients, called one of the world's best for treatment of badly burned persons.  He had been listed in critical condition from the first day.  Only last Sunday he had sunk to the lowest ebb.  Doctors told his parents then: "He is as low as he can get.  The only way he can go and still live is up."

Both Mr. and Mrs. Ray Taylor had been with their son since the day after the crash on Friday, Oct. 2.  All this time they braced themselves for the worst.  They asked for the prayers of hometown folks and those at the university in Wichita.  A number of public prayers on Johnny's behalf were voiced in Sherman churches.  Many hundreds of letters, telegrams and phone calls poured in to the Taylors, both in Denver and San Antonio.

Officials at Brook General said the only other patient in the hospital's history to get more messages was former President Lyndon Johnson, once a patient there.

The Taylors were enroute back to Sherman Thursday.  The body was to be returned here sometime Thursday.

Johnny remained for a week in the Denver hospital before he was flown by the U.S. Army on Oct. 9 to Brooke General.  He was accompanied by his parents and his fiance,  Carolyn Baggett of Sherman.  Miss Baggett flew to Denver the night of the crash with Johnny's sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Underwood of Sherman.  The parents joined them in Denver the next day.

Young Taylor, a former football star at Sherman High School where he graduated in 1968, was the worst injured of 10 persons who survived the crash that killed 30 other persons, including Johnny's head football coach at Wichita State and 13 members of the football team.  They rode in one of two twin-engine planes taking the team to a football game in Utah.  The other plane landed safely.

Among the survivors was Mike Bruce, also of Sherman.  He, too, was a football player at Wichita State and was one of Johnny's roommates.  He sustained minor injuries.  It was Bruce who first freed himself from the crashed plane and stumbled down a mountain-side to give the alarm of the crash to construction workers.

Among the other immediate survivors are two younger brothers, Jimmy and Tony, and a sister, Dixie, all of who are students in Sherman public schools. 

With the family at the time of Johnny's death was the pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Sherman, the Rev. William B. Johnson.  The Taylors are members of this church. 

Sen. John Tower, R-Tex., and Kansas Gov. Robert Docking made arrangements for Taylor's transfer to Brooke's Army Institute of Surgical Research, the only armed forces burn treatment and research center.

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

08/13/13 02:10 PM #1    

Mike Teague

I remember getting a phone call from my Dad in 1970.  He heard on the news that an airplane carrying the Wichita State football team had crashed in Colorado.  I stayed in touch via the media.  Maybe a week or so later Johnnie was moved to Brooks General Hospital in San Antonio.  This hospital was famous because it is where they brought burn victims from Viet Nam.  Johnny was burned over 90% of his body.  I was at UT in Austin at the time and went to visit Johnny every 3 days for 3 weeks.  Not being family,the hospital would not let me into his room.  One day I walked into the waiting room and saw Mrs. Taylor in the corner crying with their pastor.  I thought Johnny died when in fact they family was notified that Johnny was dying.  Mrs. Taylor look up and saw me then when into the back area and demanded that I be allowed in.  I went in and was able to hold my friends hand.  Johnny was in a coma but I really think that he knew I was there because a smile came upon his lips.  That evening Johnny passed into the hands of our God.  I miss him!

08/24/13 05:41 PM #2    

Tracy Hughes


Thank you so much for sharing that difficult and so-meaningful memory.  It helps me to continue, even after so many years, my own grieving for our precious Johnny through his suffering and death.  "God bless us every one."


go to top 
  Post Comment