Last June, we ran this piece to ask you to join us in wishing a Happy 100th Birthday to Lieutenant Colonel Bernice V. Taylor, the World War II Army nurse who served as Milton Caniff’s model for Terry and the Pirates‘s popular character, Taffy Tucker.
Lt. Col. Taylor’s niece, Judith Bernice Taylor Holliday, reached out to us with this news from April 28th, 2019:
It is with great sadness that I am notifying you that Lt. Col. Bernice Taylor, who was the ‘face’ of Nurse Taffy Tucker in the Terry and the Pirates series of comics during WWII, died peacefully this morning in hospice at the age of 100 years, 10 months and 7 days. She had been in failing health for several months. She lived an extraordinary life, and her race is run.
She will be interred after graveside military services at Olive Branch Cemetery, White Cloud, KS, in mid-May.
While ‘Aunt Bernice’ didn’t engage in the antics of Nurse Taffy, her character in the comics cheered many lonely Air Force soldiers far from home, most of whom are now gone. For Terry and the Pirates fans, though, she will live on.
You paid a wonderful tribute to Bernice on her 95th birthday, which the family appreciated. Please add this final chapter to her story.
Like so many of The Greatest Generation, Lt. Col. Taylor was reluctant to speak of her War-years experiences, even to family members. “The war has been over for a long time,” Judy Holliday quoted Bernice as saying during our initial e-mail exchange in 2013. But it was — and remains — a great honor to have a picture of her, at age 95, with a copy of our fifth Terry and the Pirates volume:
We know you will join us in paying respects to Lt. Col. Taylor, and thanking her for both her service to our country in its time of dire need, and for her place in helping to shape comics history.
During their lifetimes there was little overlap between Milton Caniff and Walt Disney, but news reached us a few days after Judy Holliday’s sad note that provides a modern-day intersection of sorts between the two: Disney Legend Floyd Norman — who needs no introduction to Disney fans worldwide, and who was so gracious and helpful to us during the preparation of our third Alex Toth book, Genius, Animated — will receive the National Cartoonist Society’s Milton Caniff Award in mid-May.
You can read — and see — more about Mr. Norman and the NCS award in this Daily Cartoonist article. Congratulations, Mr. Norman, for this richly-deserved accolade!