Randall Edward Taylor died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at his home in Philadelphia. He was 40. Randall’s father Richard Taylor is the Oak Bluffs columnist for the Gazette. What follows is an edited version of an open letter to family and friends that Mr. Taylor wrote as a tribute to his son.

Randall was our second child, born forty years ago and our only son. Bright, energetic and with his own sense of purpose, he was given the opportunities and experiences that would position him to have good options in life as he progressed in school. But his lens on life was one of exploration, adventure and doing things his way. We laughed when he said that he wanted to get the full HBCU experience by attending not one but three historically Black institutions, including Morehouse and Howard! He was a natural salesperson and worked in insurance and hospitality for many years. He was our rolling stone who was never quite happy with himself, but he would begin anew several times and we were supportive in these changes, with guidance and a safety net when needed.

At the time of his passing, he was in a construction apprentice program, hoping to join me in the real estate industry. We had explored a few potential projects in the Philadelphia market and I was excited about the possibility of having him work with me for the first time.

I look back to just a month ago, standing at the Edgartown Lighthouse with my dear friend Darryl Settles as he and wife Lisa and daughter Taylor celebrated the life of their departed son Preston, who had collapsed on a basketball court and never recovered. Engraved stones are placed around the lighthouse for deceased children. Not in my wildest dreams could I foresee that Kathy and I would become members of the club that nobody wants to join — the parents of deceased children.

In addition to Darryl and Lisa, we now join Eric and Tina Coombs who lost Edward when he was just 19, Randall’s first cousin. Rev. McCarl Thomas and Carol Copeland Thomas, who lost Mikey the summer before he matriculated at Morehouse. Friends Lance and Dee Wilson from New York, who lost their daughter Jennifer and, most recently, Island favorite Carleen Cardwell who lost her son Shawn.

Randall lived life to the fullest and we have so many good memories, photos, jokes and sayings that have helped to soothe our tears as we ponder his forty years with us. He could give and take the “dozens” with the best of them. He had longevity, impact and love for forty years. We have been married 50 years and Randall has been with us for most of our union and we now cherish his memory.

Our plans are to join Brian, Caroline, our grandchildren Tyler and Logan, my sister and other family members in Sarasota for Thanksgiving and have a private service there. Last spring when the Morehouse Glee Club came to Boston, our Tyler attended for the first time and Kathy and I decided that we would seed a wardrobe fund for the Glee Club. We will now establish the Randall Edward Taylor Glee Club Fund at Morehouse College to keep our son’s spirit and life visible and to support an institution that is dear to our hearts.

Morehouse has been connected to the Taylor family for four generations, starting with my grandfather.

We have received a tsunami of support and love from so many of you and we are very grateful. As we plan and organize for the spring, staying active will be part of our healing. We have some traveling planned for the balance of the year and we will maintain those schedules. With our faith, family, your support and our love for one another we will face the future, whatever it brings.

We thank God for the life of Randall Edward Taylor.

With deep gratitude —

Richard and Kathy Taylor