The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Casper Taylor, former speaker of Maryland House, dies at 88

He served as a delegate in Annapolis from 1975 to 2003.

Former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
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Casper R. Taylor Jr., a veteran Maryland legislator who had served in Annapolis for years as the speaker of the House of Delegates, died Monday. He was 88 and his death was confirmed by the Associated Press.

No cause could be immediately learned.

A Democrat, Taylor occupied the speaker’s chair from January 1994 to January 2003. The Cumberland native and longtime civic leader in his region entered the Maryland House in 1975 and became known for a particular interest in economic development, which was of special importance to the state’s often hard-pressed mountainous regions in the west.


Taylor’s legislative career came to an abrupt and surprising end in 2002, when a Republican tidal wave brought Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to the governorship. Redistricting also may have played a role in his loss of Taylor’s House seat, which ended his term as speaker. He had generated opposition in his district for his support of a gun control measure.

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It marked the conclusion to years of electoral success and achievement for a man whose modest manner and passion for the fine points of policy, especially in the area of health care, seemed more suited to a behind-the-scenes role.

But, Mr. Taylor, who was the former owner of a tavern, was not devoid of political gifts. Among them was an ability to create a coalition of devoted and intensely loyal supporters in the House.

In 2007, the new House of Delegates building in Annapolis was named for him.

“Former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor’s work in Cumberland and his efforts to create One Maryland have left an impact on this state that will reverberate for generations to come,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) said Monday in a statement.

Taylor served the state with distinction for nearly three decades as a member of the House and as speaker, Moore said: “We are so grateful for his years of public service, and celebrate his many accomplishments which Marylanders benefit greatly from every day.”

The “One Maryland” bill that Moore referred to was one of many pieces of legislation with which Taylor was credited. It has been described as intended to provide tax and other economic incentives for businesses to invest in economically needy parts of the state.

Taylor was born Dec. 19, 1934. After attending parochial schools in Allegany County, he went to the University of Notre Dame, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1956.

A complete list of survivors could not be obtained immediately.