Until earlier this year, Raphael worked as a museum specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. From 1978 to 2007, he held positions from museum specialist to senior conservator at the National Park Service's Harpers Ferry Center in Charles Town, W.Va., work that had him crisscrossing the country from national park to national park throughout his NPS career conserving historic artifacts.
"I saw what Toby was doing and tried to follow in his footsteps," said Susan Page of Takoma Park, Md., a senior paper conservator at The National Archives. "He had a good formula for success. Toby set the standard for conservation of museum objects."
Considered by some experts to be the foremost leather conservator, Raphael wrote "Exhibition Conservation Guidelines," a guidebook for use in the field "that affected conservation around the world," said Theresa Voellinger, also an NPS paper conservator and colleague of Raphael's. "It's the first book of its kind to put organization on how we think about exhibits as a preservation method."
Voellinger said Raphael traveled extensively in Central and South America as well, often at his own expense, to help Spanish-speaking conservators and historians working in small museums and institutions to protect and preserve their culture. He was fluent in Spanish.
"He taught me a lot about hands-on conservation and how to work with leather," said Barbara Cumberland, an NPS objects conservator. "It was a privilege working with Toby all those years."
Raphael's specialty was Native American artifacts. He was also known for his finely worked leather purses.
On the personal side, Raphael enjoyed the companionship of a host of friends, social and professional. His son Seth spoke of his father's penchant for always stepping up to help those in society's lower stratum -- the poor, the working class.
"I've never met anybody with a deeper interest in people," said Bruce Dahlin of Shepherdstown, a longtime family friend.
"Toby was a magnet in drawing people out, caring and passionate about what he believed in. If you weren't in his camp, he let you have it," said Debi Taylor of San Diego, Raphael's sister-in-law. "He inspired us to live a dream, to ask about life, and encouraged us to see and access more of it. He inspired so many people."
Raphael's death "was a real shocker," Al Levitan, another NPS colleague and longtime friend, said in a telephone interview Thursday while on a trip with his wife, Jane, in Alabama. "It's strange being away from the community at a time like this or to talk about Toby in the past tense. Toby left a legacy in his community and in the conservation world. He was a mentor to many. He will be missed by a wide range of people."
Even recently, Raphael was volunteering with the Hispanic Outreach Services sponsored by St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Martinsburg, W.Va., said Elizabeth McGowen of Shepherdstown, a fellow volunteer.
"Toby was my newest best friend," McGowen said. "He was the sweetest, most generous person, a treasure, a pillar in the Shepherdstown community."
Services will be Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Presbyterian Meeting Hall, and followed by a pot luck reception at the Raphael Taylor home on Billmyer Road.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Joseph's Catholic Church Hispanic outreach service program.