It is with great sadness that we share the news that longtime civic leader Landri Taylor died on Feb. 27 at age 70. He was remembered at a memorial service March 11 at New Hope Baptist Church.
I got to know Landri over many years, seeing him and touching base regularly at meetings and periodically interviewing him about education and affordable housing, the subjects of greatest concern to him, according to his wife Gloria and co-worker Tammi Holloway. It would feel awkward to write about him in newspaper style, referring to him as “Taylor.” He had a long list of credentials through his years of civic work, but the hundreds of us who knew him are just thinking of him as Landri. How many of us have a mental image of him arriving at a meeting, tall and lean, impeccably dressed, greeting us with a big smile—and though the years went by, he never seemed to age. Holloway says Mayor Hancock commented at his memorial service that he was surprised to learn Landri’s age at his 60th birthday party; he had assumed he was much younger.
In his role as CEO/President of The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities (formerly the Stapleton Foundation), Landri was more than a boss; he thought of his staff as family—and Gloria asked that they sit with her at his memorial service. Holloway says, “If they (his staff) had a concern or an issue and they took it to him, he would try to help.”
Holloway recalls conversations with Landri where they disagreed. “I’d be on one side and he’d be on another—and Landri can be pretty persuasive. So when I would leave the conversation, you know, I might kind of go over to his side a little bit. What I’m probably going to miss the most is just having these impromptu conversations with him.”
Gloria sounds at peace as she talks about the past few years when they had more time together after Landri cut back on his civic obligations. She asked him if he was really ready to step back. “I’m ready,” he said. “It’s time for some of the younger people to come along and take what I’ve been able to do and move it further.”
When they sold their house in Stapleton, they moved into a multigenerational house in Aurora with their daughter and her husband and grandkids. It was their daughter’s idea—and it worked perfectly for them, with enough shared and private space for all. Gloria says Landri took every opportunity to talk to his friends about how wonderful it was; he wanted to put the idea in their minds—and wished he had done it years earlier.
The family had dinner together and in the evenings they would happily look at the sunset over the mountains while listening to jazz. Landri’s collection “of everything you could think of in jazz” started when he was in high school—and included some records his father had given him. Gloria got him a turntable for listening to those. When he was in college he was a promoter for the Berkeley Jazz Festival. His other big love was golf.
Landri had a stem cell transplant in April last year, with half the stem cells from their daughter and half from a baby’s umbilical cord, says Gloria. He was 296 days out from that when he died—and he was doing well until pneumonia hit. They already had tickets for a celebratory one-year trip to a favorite restaurant in San Francisco. Gloria and her daughters will make that trip together when the coronavirus calms down. “I’m glad he’s not around right now because I would have been just terrified of him having to deal with something like that,” says Gloria. “You know, God saw fit to take that one worry away from me.”
Landri’s public service included Denver Public Schools board from 2013-16 and from 2016-20, Urban League president, RTD board, and advisor to former Mayor Wellington Webb. He also served as a vice president at Forest City Stapleton.