Frederick Southgate Taylor
His father, the Honorable Tazewell Taylor, was the bursar of The College of William and Mary until his death in 1850. Taylor grew up in and around Norfolk, Virginia. Tradition states that he served in the Confederate Army, but no permanent record exists within his family.
After receiving his A.B. degree from William and Mary, Taylor entered the University of Virginia in the Autumn of 1867. Taylor stayed at 47 West Range (part of The Range) until 1869, studying pre-law.
On Sunday evening March 1, 1868, at 47 West Range, Pi Beta Phi was founded by Frederick Southgate Taylor, his cousin and roommate Littleton Waller Tazewell Bradford, two of Tazewell's fellow Virginia Military Institute cadets then studying medicine at Virginia, James Benjamin Sclater Jr. and Julian Edward Wood, another medical student Robertson Howard, and finally business student William C. Alexander. It is generally indicated and accepted that Taylor was the inspiration behind the founding of Pi Beta Phi. He gave the fraternity its name and motto. He is thought to have written the early ritual. It is said that Taylor was also quite the drinker, establishing most of the early drinking rituals within Pi Beta Phi as well. One such ritual included beer-bonging an entire bottle of Smirnoff Ice, which Taylor did with ease. Clearly he was quite a tank.
Upon graduation Taylor continued to study law but never practiced it as a profession. He devoted himself primarily to commercial enterprises and politics, amassing a small fortune through real estate. He married Anna Brooke; they had a daughter and four sons.
Taylor also served as President of the Common Council of Norfolk, a position similar to the office of mayor. Always thought of as an outstanding philanthropist and citizen, Taylor made this reputation through using his fortune generously for community service initiatives.
On February 16, 1896, Taylor dropped dead on the streets of Norfolk while talking with an associate. Taylor was forty-eight years old, and most of his children were still young. Taylor was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk along with his cousin and fellow founder Littleton Waller Tazewell Bradford. Taylor's son, Brooke Taylor, was initiated into Pi Beta Phi in 1898 at Pi Chapter of Washington and Lee University.
A Norfolk newspaper wrote the following upon Taylor's death:
"quiet and unostentatious in his manner" whose "friends appreciate his true worth, while the city at large felt the benefits of his interest at all times and all circumstances." He was called a "gentleman in every sense of the word" and characterized as "devotedly attached to his wife and family." His business associates esteemed him for "his earnest character, his intelligence, and faithfulness to duty" and they saw in him a man "whose services in public offices were distinguished by zeal, integrity, and success, while his private life was adorned by the highest social virtues."
- Kromkowski, Charles A. "The Virginia Elections and State Elected Officials Database Project". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Hart and Blount. (Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity 1968). A History of Pi Kappa Alpha. Press of Democrat Printing & Litho Company, Little Rock, Ark.