Long-Serving WPCOG Executive Director Doug Taylor Passes Away


November 20th, 2020 - It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of retired WPCOG Executive Director R. Douglas Taylor. He passed away on Thursday, November 19th, 2020 after a period of declining health. Doug served at the WPCOG for 37 years and was the executive director for 36 years until his retirement in 2008. Doug was the first full-time executive director of the WPCOG. Doug was instrumental in the history of the WPCOG and led the organization to become one of the strongest and comprehensive councils of governments in the United States.


Dee Blackwell worked at the WPCOG for 40 years during Doug’s tenure and succeeded Doug as the executive director in 2008. Dee spoke about how Doug was an effective leader, “He did what he said he was going to do. He expected you to do what you said you were going to do. He was consistently patient.”


Current Executive Director Anthony Starr said, “Doug’s legacy is profound within this organization and the region. He dedicated much of his life to assisting local governments and improving the lives of residents in the communities throughout our region. His name isn’t on any buildings in our cities, but his mark on our communities is everywhere.”


Retired Public Services Director and Assistant Executive Director Jim Chandler served at the WPCOG for more than 30 years under Doug’s leadership. Jim said, “I will forever be thankful for the opportunity Doug gave me to join the staff of WPCOG. His leadership instilled in me and many others the importance of working together for the good of our region.”


The WPCOG Board, Staff, and Local Governments of the region extend our sympathy to his wife, Terry, his children, and all the family. We hope they find comfort and satisfaction with Doug’s outstanding record of public service. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the funeral service will be private. A public memorial will be planned in the future.


Some highlights of Doug’s career and leadership at the WPCOG include:

  • Oversaw the development of the WPCOG from one employee in 1970 to 43 employees upon his retirement in 2008. He was the facilitator and leader for getting the local governments in the four-county area to look at themselves as a real geographic and economic region.

  • Served as the central point for coordinating local government issues and problem-solving.

  • Wrote or led the development of hundreds of grants for local communities that totaled several hundred million dollars that leveraged local and private investment for infrastructure, housing, economic development and job creation.

  • Began the first transportation plan for the region and established the WPCOG as a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to oversee transportation planning for the region. WPCOG was the first COG in the state to serve as an MPO.

  • Organized the first regular meetings of county and municipal elected officials and city and county managers to promote cooperation and collaboration between local governments.

  • Managed the First Regional Park Study,

  • Worked to start the Local Assistance Planner program with multiple local governments to guide their growth and development.

  • Established the WPCOG as a public housing authority, and the WPCOG is the largest housing authority in the region serving over 1,300 families with their housing needs.

  • Helped establish the first transit system (Piedmont Wagon) in the region that later formed Greenway Public Transportation.

  • Led the formation of a federally designated HOME Consortium for the region, which provides funding for affordable housing throughout the region.

  • Oversaw the formation of the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board as part of the WPCOG. The program provides job seeking and training assistance and assistance to employers seeking talent for open positions.

  • Oversaw the creation of the Area Agency on Aging to assist older adults in our region with a range of services.


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The Western Piedmont Council of Governments shall serve all local government members in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties with professional, cost-effective assistance on a variety of local, regional, state and federal issues and programs.

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Telephone: ​828.322.9191

Fax: 828.322.5991

Email: jason.toney@wpcog.org
Mailing: P.O. Box 9026 | Hickory, NC 28603
Location: 1880 2nd Avenue NW
Hickory, NC 28601

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