My father, Les Taylor, would be gratified to see all of you here and also those attending on the video call. In my father’s 91 years he attended more than a few memorials. On occasion after hearing a glowing eulogy, he was known to say, ‘ Well I don’t know who that was in that casket, but it sure wasn’t the guy I knew”.... My father was a funny guy who often entertained us with many stories about his growing up, some of which we will share with you today. I hope you recognize him as ‘the guy’ you have known and loved over all these years.
Lester Taylor was born on May 24’th 1929 to Louise and Walter Cleon Taylor in Delta Utah. His father’s family had emigrated to Salem, Utah in the 1850s and 60s from New England and North Carolina with roots back to the founding of the colonies and the revolutionary war. Salem itself was named after his great grandfather Lyman Curtis’s hometown of Salem Mass.
The Taylor family from Mt Airy, North Carolina came to Utah shortly after the Civil War. They were small farmers from early english and german Quaker immigrants. My Dad’s 4’th cousin on the Taylor side is Andy Griffith of the 1960s TV show. The TV town of Mayberry was modeled on Mt Airy and you may see something of my Dad’s friendly comfortable style in those episodes.
Dad’s mother Louise who always called him ‘Lester’ came from some of the earliest pioneers from England and Wales. Her grandmother Eliza Sheen was part of the first handcart company to cross the plains. The Sheen’s 1856 emigration was chronicled by BYU historian Ted Hanks and is fascinating reading.
Dad grew up in a small town during the great depression as the youngest of 3 brothers and 3 sisters. His family and neighbors were tough farmers and tradesmen who had scratched a life out of the desert with hard work, courage and determination. They never considered themselves poor however, and lived a difficult but happy life in rural Utah surrounded by the rhythms of the LDS church, family and work. They had a nice lot in Salem with a large garden, pigs and chickens and grew most of the food they ate. Even when I was a boy I would look in amazement at the shelves and shelves of Grandma Taylor’s canned beans, peaches and tomatoes.
My father lost his father in a train accident at the age of 12 and often worked odd jobs to help his family. In his teens, he worked for the local farmers growing crops to feed the troops then fighting in WW2 while he watched his brothers Cliff and Rex enlist in the Navy and Air Force. Cliff was injured and his ship was sunk in a torpedo attack, but survived 12 hrs floating in the ocean until being rescued. His other brother Rex flew torpedo bombers in the pacific war and was among the few who returned home safe.
Dad often told the story of how, when leaving for work, his mother Louise would tell him ‘Be sure you put in a good day’s work’. This determination became the blueprint for the rest of his life. My dad gave 100% in his many construction and farming jobs, but not so much in school. He was distracted by basketball and being the captain and quarterback of the high school football team in Spanish Fork and was a pretty popular guy with the girls. Les had many good friends including Kent Davis and Blair Bona from these days with whom he kept in touch, his entire life.
After serving a mission for the LDS church in the Northern States mission however he focused on his education at BYU and was able to excel in his studies. He discovered he had an aptitude for not just sports but for chemistry and biology and began thinking of a career in medicine.
His greatest joy was when he met a cute girl from Idaho, my mother Annette Brunt in the library at BYU. They hit it off and were married on Aug 28, 1952 in the Idaho Falls Temple. A year later I was born, the first of 5 children, followed in a few years by Teri, Doug, Jennifer and Kim.
After Les finished school at BYU he was accepted to dental school at Case Western in Cleveland, Ohio. This was a very difficult time for them, Dad needed to work nearly full time to put himself through dental school. Typically he worked late nights coming home to study, many times without sleep before going to school the next day. They lived in public housing, managed apartments and found odd jobs to get by. His mother’s advice to work hard served him well and a few years later he graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery. He was very proud of his accomplishment and was known from that point on as Dr. Les Taylor. Later he was known simply as Dr. T.
Coming out of dental school in 1958 Dad joined the Air Force and he and Annette moved the family, now including my sister Teri and newly born Doug to Vandenberg AFB in California. They thrived in the southern California environment where dad was introduced to something which changed in his life. Golf
After his military service, the family moved around a bit. Dad established his dental practice and Mom grew the family with Jenn and Kim. Now we were 5 kids and quite the bundle. We always managed to head up to Utah and Macks Inn, Idaho for summer vacations to hang out with our Utah relatives in Salem and Spanish Fork and the Brunt family in Idaho. In Idaho, Dad became an avid fisherman with John Reese showing him all the secrets of fishing the Snake River.
Those vacations were the highlight for all of us growing up and we developed a love for fishing, hiking, kayaking in the mountains. We had fun visiting the ‘Park’ with our Nana and Gramps which in those days included feeding the bears with slices of white bread right from the car. Later Mom and Dad would buy a cabin overlooking Henrys lake where they spent summers entertaining the kids and now grandkids.
By 1967 with a successful dental practice established in Hacienda Heights, our family ended up settling in La Habra Heights next to a beautiful golf course and our friends Doyle and Barbara Taylor. Dad joined the golf club which helped him both lower his golf score and grow his dental practice. I was in high High School and the other kids were growing up fast. We took family ski trips to Mammoth and Utah where we all learned to ski. I was in scouts and Dad would join our hikes, canoeing and camping trips.
Dad’s greatest love in those days was golf but he also began to run daily and took yoga classes with Doyle for years. He bought a 911 Porsche and was enjoying life while his kids were growing up, going to college and establishing families of their own. In 1993 Mom and Dad retired to St George, Utah where Annette’s parents Thelma and Earl had retired.
In St. George, Les and Annette built a beautiful custom home, on a golf course with a pool. A few years later, Jenn and her family moved to St George. Dad spent the next years surrounded by grandkids, golf and great times.
My dad was a funny guy who always had a joke or funny story ready. He had many old friends and regularly stayed in touch with them. While he suffered from multiple health issues he was always in good spirits and genuinely interested in all his kids, grandkids, their friends and their lives. I will miss him very much.
The Les Taylor Stories
My dad, Les Taylor would often tell us stories of his growing up in Salem Utah in the 1930s and 40s and later of his making his way in the world. He married Annette Brunt, went to dental school, served in the Air Force and finally settled into a comfortable life in La Habra Ca where he raised 5 children. Later they retired in St George, Utah where they lived until he died on Jan 2, 2021. These are a few of the stories he would tell us all. In my mind I can
Forth Grade cowboy songs
Brother - Lloyd Taylor’s Death
Walter Taylor’s Death
Cliff's War Service
Rex's War Service
Going to Dental School
Vandenburg Air Force Base
Moving to San Jose, Redlands, Arcadia, Hacienda Heights
Starting his dental practice in Hacienda Heights
Build New Home in La Habra Heights
Hacienda Golf Club
Trip to Mexico
Dad went to Mexico with a dental? group. They were assured that the water was safe to drink, but when walking around the town they saw boys refilling bottled water from a hose. Sure enough they all became terribly sick and had to return home early
Mom and Dad took a tour trip to Crimea where they had a good meal which featured a large bowl of the national soup Borscht. As they took a walk later and noticed that could see into the chef’s kitchen. They observed the staff emptying unfinished bowls of borscht back into the serving pot.
Trip to St Andrews
Das took a trip to St Andrews with a group of dentists. They told him he could not take photograph of the Taylor paintings inside.
Friends and Partners
Blair and Dad were lifelong friends. When they were at BYU one day, they decided to quit school and take jobs which they did.