Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge Peter J.T. Taylor | 1926-2010

Judge Peter J.T. Taylor dies at 83

GOLFVIEW — By the time he met the girl who would become his wife, Peter Taylor already knew what he wanted to do with his life.

"He wanted to be a lawyer," his wife, Jane Taylor, said. "He had his mind set on that already."

He was only about 12 years old at the time.

His wife wasn't exactly sure how he chose the legal profession. Still, through his long career, he never lost his passion for the law.

"He loved the knowledge of it and the wisdom of it, and the justice that it stood for," she said. "Every night, he'd work preparing for the next day. His hobby was working. It was what he loved to do."

His devotion to the law and to his work helped him become one of Tampa's most successful lawyers. He spent the last 13 years of his career as a circuit judge in the 13th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Taylor died July 3 of heart failure. He was 83.

His parents were British but lived in America before he was born. His mother went back to England to give birth to him, then returned here to join her husband. They moved to South Tampa shortly afterward, and except for stints in school and the military, he lived there the rest of his life.

He was a student at Wilson Junior High School when he met his wife-to-be. They spent a lot of time together through middle school and dated occasionally for their first few years at Plant High School.

"I had my eye on Peter," his wife said. "I think he had his eye on sports."

By senior year, they had become a serious couple, and they stayed together from then on.

Judge Taylor was drafted near the end of World War II. He never saw action. But after the war, he was assigned to Korea as part of the American occupation.

He finished college after his military service ended. He married in 1950 and commuted to Stetson law school in Gulfport.

He worked for a local Tampa firm, then for the state attorney's office. Before long, he and three colleagues left to start their own practice.

"They had a plan that one would drop out and start the practice, and then once that got going another one would drop out and join," Jane Taylor said.

By the time the fourth lawyer left his state job, the firm, which was finally called Goldberg, Putney, Taylor and Hampton, was thriving.

Gov. Bob Graham appointed Judge Taylor to the Circuit Court in 1983. He ran unopposed for election the next year but had to campaign in 1990, when he won re-election by a wide margin. He retired from the bench in 1996.

Although he was exceptionally studious and hard-working, he was also devoted to his family. When he wasn't busy with the law, he was usually spending time with his wife and two daughters.

"He was serious and diligent about things that needed to be taken seriously," said his daughter, Carole Kirkwood. "But when he was done with work, he believed that you had earned the right to relax and have a nice vacation. He taught his daughters to do their very best at everything we did, but he also wanted us to enjoy our lives. He appreciated that life was about balance."

Besides his wife and Kirkwood, Judge Taylor is survived by his daughter Linda Schnitzlein, his sister Sarah Jane Taylor and six grandchildren.

Marty Clear writes life stories about Tampa residents who have recently passed away. He can be reached at

Judge Peter J.T. Taylor dies at 83 07/15/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Shelter duty, charter schools, teacher pay and more


    ON THE JOB TRAINING: Michael Vasallo learns how to run an evacuation shelter on his 21st day as principal of Dunedin Highland Middle School.

    First year principal Michael Vasallo, right, got called into hurricane shelter duty one month into his job.
  2. Forecast: Sunny skies, warm temperatures to rule across Tampa Bay this week


    After periods of heavy rain in some parts of Tampa Bay over the weekend, the region can expect sunny skies, and warm condition to prevail through the workweek.

    [10Weather WTSP]
  3. PolitiFact Florida: How would Florida fare in Graham-Cassidy health care bill?


    Following a sharp rebuke by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., hit the airwaves to defend his bill that would undo much of the Affordable Care Act.

    Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.
  4. Whatever happened to the Zika epidemic?


    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting Zika. Cases of the virus are down dramatically in Florida.
  5. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]