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Foundation director of ABQ balloon museum found dead

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People who knew Jennifer Taylor said that, while she didn’t know much about hot-air ballooning when she came to Albuquerque to work for the balloon museum, she took to the sport with great enthusiasm and a smile.

Jennifer M. Taylor, whose age was unknown, was found dead Friday around noon in Rio Rancho. Police are investigating the unattended death, but a spokesman said there doesn’t appear to be any foul play. They released no other details.

Taylor came to Albuquerque in 2005 from Pennsylvania to supervise the opening of the gift shop at the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Museum foundation board members say that she did such a splendid job opening the store that she was a perfect fit for foundation director. She became director in 2009.

“She embraced ballooning like a little kid,” foundation board member Jodi Baugh said on Saturday. “It was like ballooning was just a part of her life now.”

Amanda Molina, a board member and museum spokeswoman, echoed Baugh and added that Taylor made co-workers, contributors and everyone she encountered feel like the most important person in the world.

“She just really brought an amazing passion for ballooning and just service to the community,” Molina said.

Baugh said Taylor often called late into the night to talk about the foundation. As director, she helped to organize the foundation’s biggest events and programs.

“I’ll miss those late-night calls,” Baugh said. “We solved so many problems in the middle of the night.”

On Friday, the foundation will hold one of its biggest events, the Chic-I-Boom Ball, in order to fund a new program that funds trips for city school children to the museum. Taylor made significant contributions to that project, Baugh said.

“I think the community has lost a great human being, but God has a good soul,” she said.

On its website, the museum thanked Taylor for her service to the museum and lamented her death as a loss for the hot-air ballooning community.

“It is with great sadness that we share the passing of our executive director Jennifer Taylor,” the statement reads. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. She provided so much to the balloon museum and foundation and ballooning community through her contributions, spirit and memorable smile.”

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