With a life that spanned nine decades, Robert “Bob” Taylor had a lengthy life resume. From a rural farm kid to becoming a teacher, farmer, pilot, artist, photographer, musician, and who had a strong Christian faith, Bob has left all of us with a special touch in different ways. With many achievements and accomplishments, Bob would admit that the greatest joy and reward to being a husband and father was becoming a grandfather.
On May 14, 1924, Russell F. and Beulah A. (Shroyer) Taylor were happy to announce the birth of their first born child, Robert Francis Taylor. For the first two years of his life, he grew up in a rental home before his parents moved to the homestead of the Taylor farm off State Road 14 in Jefferson Township of Whitley County, Indiana. Bob’s great-grandparents established the farm that they moved to until he was seven years old. With the Great Depression affecting a lot of the country, Bob’s parents moved to the southwest side of Ft. Wayne to live at “The Tower”, which was a service station and motel service to serve motorist off U.S. 24 where the current Plant Center is today. While living there, he worked in the local fields picking onions and mint and over 80 years later, he would be overlooking one of those fields at Coventry Meadows.
By the time he was 12, his parents moved back to Whitley County and he attended Jefferson Center High School and graduated with the Class of 1942. During his school years, he joined the high school band and traveled around competing in music competitions. In his senior year, Helen Byall, who was in her junior year, had a Sunshine Banquet to attend at the school and she asked Bob to go with her. The two continued dating and after he was a student at Purdue University, the two were married on July 28, 1946 at Jefferson Chapel United Methodist Church. Following the wedding, he moved Helen over to the Lafayette area as he finished up his degree and she got a job doing bookkeeping at Ross Gear.
He played the clarinet in Purdue’s Military Marching Band. He received his Bachelor’s degree in 1948 and a Master’s degree in Agriculture Administration. After he graduated, Bob talked with Helen and they made the choice to move to North Webster as he took a teaching job for a few years before getting a job back in Whitley County. By 1954, they moved to the Taylor family farm.
Along with being a farmer, he was the Allen County Extension Agent, manager of the Allen County Co-op and a Loan Officer with Lincoln National Bank Agriculture. He was a member of Dunfee Missionary Church, the Experimental Aircraft Association, Lions Club in Arcola and had served on the Board of Directors at Bethel College. In 1958, Bob co-found the Farm & Garden show in Arcola which would later grow in size and attendance to become Fort Wayne’s Home & Garden Show that is held every winter at the Memorial Coliseum.
When WWII started, Bob wanted to fly fighter planes, but because of his bad eye sight and a heart condition, they would not allow it. With his love of flying, he would eventually obtain his private pilot license, owned several planes along with an ultralight, and placed a 1,950’ turf landing strip on the east side of his farm house identified as the Homestead Airport, 29IN. Besides flying and taking his family up with him, he enjoyed drawing, painting and wood burning. Another beautiful canvas he could create on was landscaping. He designed the layout and landscaping for Bear Lake Church Camp, the landscaping for several area churches, and of course his farm house.
On his 60 acre farm, he also had planted orchards, gardens, and was a master gardener extraordinaire. He took great pride in his hard work and was proud to provide for his family. They canned the fruits and vegetables that they grew and picked to eat year round. The family raised strawberries and sweet corn to sell along the roadside. With the money they earned, they would use this to rent a cottage on Crystal Lake in Frankfort, Michigan every year and one of Bob’s favorite memories was teaching his children to water ski.
Being musically gifted, he not only played the clarinet but he also played the banjo, harmonica and sang. He performed many music specials at Dunfee Missionary Church, where he also taught Sunday School. Bob also was known to be a great photographer and videographer. He loved being outdoors and nature and took countless hours of videoing nature and the beauty it has to offer.
Bob loved life all together. His biggest reward in life was the special joy that his grandchildren brought him. He loved each and every one of them. He was a very social and outgoing gentleman who loved to give back. He and Helen traveled a lot to not only visit their children as they moved away, but they also traveled around doing mission work and teaching estate planning for the Missionary Church denomination. He continued to give back to his community after retirement to substitute teach every day from the age of 65 till 75 at Homestead High School. With such a great personality, the teachers would ask for Bob to cover for them and on his 75th birthday, he even climbed the Environmental Center’s climbing wall and impressed all the students.
After Bob lost his wife of 69 years on January 19, 2016, life was never the same for him. For the past 13 months he made Covington Meadows his new home and with the great staff there, he made the best of it. He spread warmth and delight there with not only his personality, but with sharing of his many works of art. On the morning of Wednesday, November 22, 2017, Bob would join Helen once again and needs no walker to help assist him walking and can fly without the use of an airplane. In Bob’s words, “Old pilots never die, they just lose their propellers.”
Survivors include his children, Ed (Pat) Taylor, of Baraboo, Wisconsin, Jeanne Taylor, of Fort Wayne, Doug (Cindy) Taylor, of Lafayette, Dan Taylor, of Lafayette and Emily (Kurt) Boller, of Roanoke; ten grandchildren; and one great-grandson. Bob was preceded in death by his parents; wife; grandson, Daniel Boller; and sister, Nadean Zorger.
Visitation is 2-7 p.m. Monday, November 27, 2017 at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at Dunfee Missionary Church, 818 W County Line Rd N, Fort Wayne with visitation one hour prior to the funeral service. Pastor Dennis Rowe and Pastor Jerry Blanchard will be officiating. Burial will follow at Jefferson Chapel (Sand Bank) Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest beside his wife. Memorial gifts may be given in his memory to Bear Lake Church Camp. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send his family condolences online.