David O. Taylor, MD, Recognized with Special Achievement Award

Linda and David O. Taylor, MD


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For his notable accomplishments, including exceptional patient care and leadership, Dr. David O. Taylor, who passed away on Feb. 5 at the age of 60, is being honored with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation Alumni Association Special Achievement Award.

“Dr. Taylor is certainly deserving of recognition for all of his contributions here at Cleveland Clinic and beyond,” says colleague Jerry Estep, MD. “He is dearly missed – a man of unforgettable talents, calming voice of reason and sensibility, and extraordinary compassion,” says fellow Varinder Randhawa, MD PhD.

Randall Starling, MD, MPH, also lauded Dr. Taylor as “a unique human being who was loved and respected by everyone, including his patients, colleagues, and all who knew him worldwide. His legacy will be eternal, as he influenced the lives of countless trainees who will forever be a testimony to his tremendous impact.”

Dr. Taylor joined the staff of the Robert and Suzanne Tomsich Department of Cardiovascular Medicine in 2001. In addition, he was a professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and former Director of the Heart Failure and Transplantation Fellowship. He was internationally recognized in the field of heart transplantation and served as Past President of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation. In 2016, he was awarded the Sones Favaloro Award for Education/Teacher of the Year.

“The tragic and sudden loss of Dr. Taylor left a void in the heart of everyone who knew him,” says Khaldoun Tarakji, MD. “With his early departure, we lost a great mentor, teacher, master clinician, wonderful colleague, dear friend, and most important, a wonderful, humble human being.”

Dr. Taylor was born and raised in Artesia, New Mexico, where his love of medicine began in his youth. His father, a general practitioner, took him on rounds, taught him to read EKG’s, and shared with him his love of cardiology. Dr. Taylor earned his medical degree at the University Of New Mexico School Of Medicine in Albuquerque, where he met his wife, Linda.


“I worked in the Pediatric ICU,” Linda says. “He was the cute medical student on cardiac surgery rotation. I knew soon after we began dating that I was going to marry him. We were engaged and married in Albuquerque within eight months of meeting, in 1983.”

After graduation, the couple moved to Virginia, where Dr. Taylor completed his internship, residency, and fellowships in cardiology, heart failure, and cardiac transplantation at Virginia Commonwealth University. They moved again in 1991 when he became the Medical Director of Cardiac Transplant at the University of Utah. Their final move together was to Cleveland in 2001, with their three children, Matthew, Alyssa and Mackenzie.

“Our dad was just our dad,” says Mackenzie. “It was never a question of whether dad was going to make it to our games, plays, concerts – he was always there. My dad taught me to find humor in life. I lived for making him laugh.” Dr. Taylor’s children share memories of going to the movies, Playhouse Square, and Indians games with their dad. Dr. Taylor shared his love of travel, music, art, scuba diving, and cooking, with his chili and Thanksgiving stuffing among the family’s favorites.

While his children knew their father was beloved by his many patients, colleagues, and students, still the groundswell of support from his community has been stunning. “I think what surprised us most wasn’t the awards or the respect he earned as a physician and educator, because we knew that,” notes Alyssa. “After all, we experienced his work ethic and passion firsthand. What surprised us were the personal stories of the friendship, time, and compassion our dad extended to everyone he encountered, especially what he meant to them not only as a mentor, but as a friend.”

“He was an amazing husband, father and doctor,” Linda says. Letters received from his patients comfort her, she says, and capture what she loved most about the person referred to by family and friends as “the smartest man in the room.”

“David was the nicest person I knew, my best friend and he made me a better person,” Linda says. “He was so kind, humble, and loyal, and he had the most beautiful smile.”


“My father was at the famous 1983 NCAA Championship where Jimmy Valvano’s Wolfpack upset the Titans of Houston,” Matt says. “Jimmy V famously said, ‘My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could ever give another person, he believed in me.’ My dad believed in me through numerous mistakes and stumbling blocks, and every single doctor, nurse, fellow, resident, and hospital staff member who worked with my father knows how it feels to be supported by Dr. Taylor. I believe Jimmy V’s closing remarks when battling cancer echo what my father would say to all of us right now, ‘Never give up! Failure and rejections are only the first step in succeeding. Conceive the inconceivable, then accomplish it, but don’t you ever give up.”

To honor Dr. Taylor’s passion for education, the Alumni Association is seeking gifts supporting the David O. Taylor, MD Memorial Endowed Fund for Education. This endowment will create a lasting legacy to support lectureships, conferences, and other scholarly opportunities to advance Fellows’ education.

Make your gift today by visiting: give.ccf.org/DavidTaylorMD.

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