Celestian J. “Pete” Taylor, who served as head baseball coach at The University of Southern Mississippi from 1958-1983, died at his residence in Hattiesburg Sunday. He was 92.
A Mass of Christian Burial for Taylor will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hattiesburg, with interment at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Cemetery. Visitation will be Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. at the church, followed by a rosary service. Hulett-Winstead Funeral Home in Hattiesburg is in charge of arrangements.
Taylor came to Southern Miss in 1941, then known as Mississippi Southern College, playing offensive and defensive end for its football team. He left to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corp during World War II, but returned to the university afterward to continue playing football and earn his degree.
After graduation he enjoyed success as a high school football coach in New Orleans and St. Louis, and then came back to Hattiesburg to join legendary head football coach Thad “Pie” Van’s staff as an assistant coach. In addition to his duties as head baseball coach, he also served Southern Miss as a track and field coach and as assistant athletic director.
Pete Taylor Park, the university’s current baseball facility, was constructed and named in his honor in 1985 and is known affectionately by many Southern Miss fans as “The Pete.” Two of his former players, Hill Denson and Corky Palmer, succeeded him as head baseball coach.
“If you were to look up the words ‘Southern gentleman,’ his picture should be there,” said current Southern Miss Head Baseball Coach Scott Berry. “It’s just a tremendous loss to us. But I know he would be the first to tell you that he lived a great life, and that the university was a big part of it.
“He did so much for this baseball program, this university and this community,” Berry said. “One of my fondest memories of him was when he would volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner at Christian Services for those in need. We’re really going to miss him”
Memorials to Taylor may be made to the C.J. “Pete” Taylor Memorial Baseball Scholarship, USM Athletic Foundation P.O. Box 15458 Hattiesburg, MS 39404.