Sunday, April 14, 2024

Richard L. Taylor, 91

| February 14, 2024 2:00 AM

Heaven needed him and so we look up into that big, beautiful Montana Sky and say, “I’ll be seeing you” all the while knowing we are left down here missing out on one hell of a good time – “oof dah.”

Richard Laurence Taylor was born March 4, 1932, in Stapleton, Nebraska to Annabel and Laurence Taylor during the Great Depression. He was the son of a carpenter who fiercely loved his “mama” and four younger sisters Ann, Louise, Kay and Dana. Richard, “Dick” to his friends and Daddy to his family, was fond of saying the Taylor family moved 13 times before he finished the eighth grade. It was with this constant state of change during one of our Nation’s most challenging times that gave Dad his grit, strong work ethic and his love of meeting new people and hearing their life stories. Daddy’s family moved to Yankton, South Dakota during the late 1940s. Dad attended Alexandria High school, where he was recognized as an outstanding athlete in football playing offensive lineman and, in the spring, baseball pitcher. The Oct. 6, 1949, Alexandria Herald proclaimed “Hanson and Taylor lead Alex to Homecoming Win… by the brilliant running of Hanson and Taylor”. In Alexandria’s win over Salem, the Alexandria July 28, 1949 Herald touted, “Taylor pitched outstanding ball. He gave only four hits and had four hitless innings.” Dad was the new boy in town, and it was here that his sisters Ann and Louise told him they had chosen his girlfriend for him– Angela “Dolly” Smith. Dad was smitten, leaving candy in Dolly’s desk to garner her attention. At that time, little did either of them know that theirs was a lifelong love that will last an eternity. After graduation in 1950, Dad enlisted proudly in the United States Marine Corp and was deployed to serve in the Korean War. He served as a telephone and communications operator on the front line and was promoted to Sergeant, receiving four medals of Honor and returned home to South Dakota late 1952, where his beloved Angela had anxiously awaited his return. Richard and Angela were married March 25, 1953, and welcomed their first of five children, Gregory Richard Taylor, born on March 23, 1954, in San Diego, where Dad was stationed serving for the U.S.M.C. Debra Ann Taylor was born the following summer on July 7, 1955, in Yankton South Dakota, where the family had returned after Dad’s honorable discharge from the Marines. Dad graduated from South Dakota State University in 1960 with a degree in mechanical engineering and accepted an opportunity to work with the Federal Government’s Bureau of Reclamation. He was transferred to Denver, Colorado where he and Angela welcomed baby Jennifer Lynne Taylor on March 25, 1962, their “child of the Rockies” and forever Denver Broncos fan. It was here that Dad received the offer from the Bureau to either go to Illinois or to Hungry Horse, Montana. The rest is history as they say… Dick became superintendent of Hungry Horse Dam in May 1971 after his boss and friend, Emmett Myhre, retired. Dad’s career at the Dam spanned from 1962 – 1988. He was so very proud of the team that kept the Dam running at its best with floors shined to looking glass. Dad truly loved his “Dam” family. It was a golden time of deep friendships, faith and family spent enjoying all that is the rugged Montana outdoors. Two more daughters were born into the Taylor family, Nancy Michelle in October 1963 and Kim Angela in May 1965, natural native-born Montanans. Dick’s love of people led him to serve as Chairman of the District 6 School Board for years, which he so enjoyed doing. His true passion of people and a “good buy” led him to auctioneering school. He obtained his Auctioneering Certification on March 20, 1971, from the Western College of Auctioneering in Billings, MT. Some of his best times over the years were on stage auctioneering with Phil Buck and “Pa” Herman Loff, and his confidant and partner-in-crime, Norm Lant, clerking at the annual Creston Auction Sale. Dick also ran TLC Auction in Kalispell and Old Timers Auction in Hungry Horse where he continued to carry out his love of a good sale and meeting people. The last of his true loves was his home and property on Flathead River that he purchased in 1972 after he and his dear friend, Bob Loff, stumbled upon it looking for a special place for the next Saint Richard’s annual parish picnic. It was paradise – complete with an abundance of wildlife, year-round fishing with those he loved, hunting in the autumn as the cotton woods blazed orange and ice skating, snow mobiles or horse sleighs in the winter. Dad loved to sit on the front lawn with a cold beer, his dog Petey and the light of his life, Angela, staring at Columbia or watching the flow of the Flathead River, whereby he always expressed his gratitude to God of being “so lucky” to be able to enjoy paradise. Paradise will always be this majestic place he called Home, Montana, with the many he loved and graciously gave his heart to. Dad loved God, his Country, his family, especially his “Dolly”, his dear friends, his German Shepards, a good book which he’d read in a night, a true western, cold beer and Supper. He had a knack of seeing into people and for those in real need, quietly recognized that charity was about giving and expecting nothing in return, ever. His favorite saying to so many was, “I love you.” Dad is sorely missed, and the only tiny scrap of comfort is knowing he has a new paradise that he is tending to until we meet him again. He told us that a Marine’s job is to guard Heaven’s gates. Dick is survived by his wife and eternal love of 74 years, Angela, his daughters, Jenny and Kim, and his dear sisters, Kay and Dana. He is also survived by son-in-law, Adam Wiatrak (Kim), and 12 beautiful grandchildren and great grandbabies. He was preceded in the untimely deaths of his children Greg, Debbie and Nancy, which left holes in his heart never to be filled. He was also preceded in death by his beloved parents and sisters, Ann and Louise. A rosary vigil and eulogy will take place at St. Richards Catholic Church on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at 7 p.m. A veteran memorial and funeral are planned for Feb. 16, 2024, at Saint Richards Parish in Columbia Falls at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you please make donations to the Montana Veterans Home or the Flathead Animal Shelter. Columbia Mortuary in Columbia Falls is caring for the family. To send online condolences please visit Dick’s tribute page at www.columbiamortuary. com.