1986 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Young people today have a duty not just to themselves but to society to make the very most of their lives."
Patrick Taylor was born in Texas in 1937. He grew up listening to stories about early wildcatters and historic oil discoveries, and dreamed of becoming an oilman. Taylor's parents divorced shortly after his birth. When he was two, his mother married a watchmaker. His stepfather was a severe disciplinarian and Taylor believes the pressures of his childhood accounted for an occasional stutter that persisted for 20 years.
To stay out of his stepfather's path, Taylor turned to books and his schoolwork. As a junior in high school, he won a competition for a scholarship to the Kinkaid Academy, a prestigious private school in Houston. During his junior year, however, Taylor had an argument with his stepfather and left home. He had 35 cents in his pocket. He attended Kinkaid, living in a rooming house and working in a cafeteria after school and on weekends to cover his expenses. Eventually, a former employer, oil man Warren Layne, assisted him. Taylor worked as a draftsman for Layne during his senior year.
In 1955, Taylor attended Louisiana State University and majored in petroleum engineering. He graduated in 1959 and worked for oil man John Mecom. After working as a consultant, Taylor started his own drilling company in the early 1970s. Mecom served as a silent partner in that venture. The company was successful, but Taylor sold it in 1979 to start the Taylor Energy Company. Within three years, his company's assets grew from less than $1 million to more than $80 million without outside investors. Taylor Energy became one of the largest solely owned independent gas and oil companies in the nation.
Taylor mentioned his Horatio Alger Award in approximately 800 speeches in 90 cities in 35 states. He said, "I've received awards from the Pope on down, but the significant thing about the Horatio Alger Award is that it led me to speak to high school students. I always told them that if I could make it when I did, they could, too. But in 1988, I met a generation of young people who truly believed that college and the success that goes with it are for other folks- not for them. I realized we had to address how we administer higher education and change our policy from one based on family resources to one based on merit and desire."
After guaranteeing college for his own 183 "Taylor's Kids," he launched an individual statewide effort to change public policy in Louisiana. In 1989, Louisiana became the first state to pass the Taylor Plan. The legislation provides for state paid college tuition for all low and middle income applicants who meet the plan's visible course, grade, and test admission standards. His nationwide lobbying efforts led 12 other states to adopt some form of tuition grants based on admission standards.* Deceased