Thursday, Aug. 20, was one of the saddest days I have known. That morning I received a call at my home telling me that Bill Taylor had died.
I could not, or did not want to, believe what I was told. I called Bill's secretary and asked if it was true.
She said, "Yes Mr. Isaac, it's true; we lost him this morning." Neither of us could hold back the tears.
Bill Taylor was a very special person who will live forever in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to have known him.
I have been thinking of him a lot these past few days and would like to share some of those thoughts with you.
The news stories reporting Bill's death tell you what he was -- chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., former head of bank supervision at the Federal Reserve, and former acting head of the Resolution Trust Corp.'s Oversight Board.
A Real Person
Far more important, in my book, is who he was.
Bill Taylor was real person, full of life's emotions. He cared deeply about his friends and family, his God, his country, his principles, and his life's work.
You never had to wonder where Bill stood on things. He would tell you with unmistakable clarity. If he disagreed with you, you knew it, and you knew why. If he liked and respected you, you knew it, and you knew it was real.
If you were fortunate enough to spend more than a little time with him, you experienced the full range of his emotions. You knew his love, anger, frustration, and good humor.
I have been in and around government a good number of years, and have seen the best and worst it has to offer. I have known many highly principled and dedicated public servants. Two of the finest were Bill Taylor and his former mentor, Paul Volcker.
Bill's integrity, dedication, and loyalty were absolute.
I spoke with him about six months or so before Paul Volcker left his position as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Most people in Bill's shoes at that time would have begun thinking about a transition to the private sector.
Not Bill Taylor. He said, "I'm devoted to my chairman, and I will stay as long as he wants me to."
About a year later, after Alan Greenspan had assumed the chairman's post at the Federal Reserve, I again asked Bill about his plans. His response: "I plan to stay at the Fed as long as the chairman wants me."
In 1989, Congress passed the S&L cleanup legislation and created the RTC to oversee the process. The Bush administration asked Bill to become president of the RTC Oversight Board.
Bill responded that he would accept the position "only if my chairman asks me to do it."
His chairman wanted him to stay at the Fed, so Bill turned down the RTC position.
But while staying at the Fed, he agreed to take the RTC post on an acting basis until a permanent person could be found
Do good and you will do well. Bill's good works brought him to the attention of President Bush. When the FDIC needed a new chairman to lead it through the most difficult period in its history, the President turned to Bill Taylor.
The President could not have made a better choice. Had Bill been given the time to complete the job, he would have gone down in history as the best chairman the FDIC has ever had.
I have struggled to understand why Bill Taylor has been so abruptly taken from us. The answer, of course, is beyond our comprehension.
We simply have to have faith that there is a purpose, a grand design.
Bill Taylor is gone but will never be forgotten by those who knew and loved him.
Mr. Isaac, a former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., is managing director and chief executive of the Secura Group, a Washington-based financial services consulting firm.