Ann Soyka Taylor, a feisty fighter for justice, 90

Ann Soyka Taylor died Dec. 19 in New Haven, Conn., shortly after her 90th birthday.

Taylor was born Dec. 9, 1916 in New Haven, the daughter of working-class Ukrainian immigrants. Her mother cleaned rooms at the Hotel Taft and her father was a window washer.

Ann grew up in a progressive, activist community. In 1927 she attended her first political rally, protesting the execution of labor leaders Sacco and Vanzetti. When she was 15, she helped her mother host a contingent of the 1932 Bonus Army of World War I veterans as it stopped in New Haven on its way to Washington, D.C.

In the Young Communist League during the Great Depression, Ann met and married Sid Taylor in 1940. They had two sons, Bernie and Joe. During this period, Ann was a youth leader in the Ukrainian American League. She remained active in the League throughout her life.

After World War II, Sid became a leader in the Connecticut Communist Party. He was arrested under the anticommunist Smith Act, but was acquitted in 1955 on an appeal that helped end the national wave of political prosecutions. During this period, Ann worked a variety of clerical jobs and helped organize a committee to protect the children of political prisoners.

Ann and Sid Taylor remained a focus of Communist and progressive life in New Haven. Ann played a pivotal role in the annual picnics in their backyard and, later, weekly potluck suppers at the New Haven People’s Center. These social events served as centers of organizing in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Concerned Hospital Workers’ campaign that organized the dietary workers at Yale New Haven Hospital, and other labor, civil rights and antiwar activities.

Ann was a peace activist and a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

In the 1990s, as a clerical worker at Yale University, Ann was a charter member of Local 34, the union of clerical and technical workers at Yale. During the 10-week strike in 1984, which attracted national attention for its breakthrough first-contract victory, Ann was on the picket line every day. She was a center of strength in one of the key buildings. Ann retired from Yale in 1987 after 25 years.

Ann and Sid moved to Florida in 1994, remaining active in the retiree community. After Sid’s death in 2002, Ann returned to New Haven in 2005.

Ann’s friends and comrades will remember and miss her great warmth, her feisty manner and fighting spirit. She is survived by sons Joe and Bernie, daughter-in-law Natasha, two grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren. Contributions in Ann’s name can be sent to the New Haven People’s Center, 37 Howe Street, New Haven CT 06511.

A memorial meeting will be held at a date to be announced.