Greek Community Organizations to Help Support Taylor’s Island

(Photo by TNH/Costas Bej)

NEW YORK – Members of the Hellenic American Taxpayers and Civic Association of Southold Town (HATCAST) and Federation of Cephalonian and Ithacian Societies of the United States and Canada “Odysseus” responded to The National Herald article “Greek Immigrant Donated Taylor’s Island to Shelter Island 70 Years Ago” which was posted online on Jan. 5.

The donation of the island by Sotirios Gregoriou Tavoularis (S. Gregory Taylor) also included $10,000 (a huge amount at that time) in order to maintain his summer home.

Costas Vangelatos, general secretary of the Odysseus Federation and vice-president of HATCAST spoke with TNH, noting that they would contribute to two areas.

The first is related to the use of the island by organizing Greek community and family events and the second with the financial support of the Taylor’s Island Foundation, which has undertaken the difficult task of renovating and restoring the country house.

At the same time, he noted that news of the donation pleased the expatriate property owners of Southold, Greenport, and other areas of Eastern Long Island, because Tavoularis’ donation will be a source of inspiration for other wealthy Greek people in the area.

P.A.T. (Patricia Ann Thomas Hunt), co-chair of the Taylor’s Island Foundation, expressed gratitude for TNH’s article and the attention it has brought to the island and the foundation, noting that it has already received messages from Long Island expatriates who were interested in learning more about it and about Tavoularis’ life and work.

The interior of the Smith-Taylor Cabin on Taylor’s Island. Photo by Costas Bej

“As time goes on, I realize how lucky we all are to have been given the task of preserving and perpetuating the heritage of Sotirios Gregoriou Tavoularis,” said Mrs P.A.T. expressing the readiness to cooperate with the Greek community who will want to contribute to the work of the Foundation and the promotion of the island.

Lover of education

Sotirios Gregoriou Tavoularis, as TNH wrote, was a lover of education, and from further research we learned that he donated a million dollars to the Cornell University School of Hospitality at Ithaca in New York.

This donation, as mentioned in the list of scholarship reserve funds, has been made by S. Gregory Taylor and the fund was named “The Taylor Scholarship Foundation.”

At the same time, it should be noted that while Tavoularis lived, he managed the treasury himself, and after his death the work was carried on by his brother, Achilleas Tavoularis (Charles G. Taylor). After the death of Achilleas, Marica A. Taylor, his widow, took on the responsibility.

A $3,000 scholarship was awarded each year to a Greek student who was studying at that school provided he had an excellent academic record and needed financial assistance. The amount in the 1940s and 1950s was of great value and covered the tuition fees. Tavoularis had donated a million dollars to the Archdiocese to set up the Taylor Scholarship Program.

At the beginning of the last decade the reserve fund had exceeded $7 million and during the 2001-2002 school year scholarships with a total value of over $250,000 were awarded.

On June 9, 2007, a visitor named John wrote in the guestbook at Taylor’s Island that he had visited the island because he wanted to know more about the trophy his mother, Sylvia Shethar Skipper, had received and which was inscribed “S. Gregory Taylor Challenge Trophy for Juniors 1937.”

Sailing races were organized by the Pequot Yacht Club in Southport, Connecticut, and included races for women. TNH discovered that the trophy was awarded in 1946, two years before the death of Sotirios Gregoriou Tavoularis.