Mr. Leonard Hadden Taylor
Eulogy delivered by Len's daughter, Catherine Tompkins
Dad was born in Walkerville, not far from here, just down the road and around the corner on Argyle Road. His family were members of this church, St. Mary's Anglican Church, and dad has been a member all his life. He joined the choir at the age of eight and was still singing here until last June, at the age of 91. Although he said that “he didn't have enough air left in him to continue singing, our choir director, Steve, told me “Len's a member of St. Mary's choir and he will always be”. Thank you, Steve; that meant a lot to Dad. I know that on Sunday mornings, I'll still feel Dad's presence, sitting right behind me where he once sat as one of the original three tenors, along with Neil and David.
As a boy, Dad worked at Jimmy Sunshine's Fruit and Vegetable store on Ottawa Street, where he told us he was paid 25 cents a day and all the fruit that he could eat. Dad started work at Greyhound Bus Lines as a ticket agent at 18 years of age. He served in the Canadian Air Force during WWII. He worked at Greyhound for 46 years, and then enjoyed 29 happy and healthy years of retirement.
Dad met mom in 1951 and they were married here at St. Mary's in 1952. They have 3 children, 7 grand children and 7 great-grand children (with another on the way). They recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at Niagara-on-the-Lake, surrounded by family.
One of my earliest memories of Dad was watching him coming through the school yard at King George's as he walked home from work. I remember standing at the front door waiting for him to come home to play with me. Dad was our “entertainment committee”. Whether he was throwing us around in the water at Cedar Beach or chasing us through the house acting like Bella Lagose and pretending to bite our necks, we loved him for it. Dad probably loved playing games even more than we did. While mom was busy cooking, we all sat on the floor while Dad dealt the cards or rolled the dice. We played “Old Maid” and “Go Fish” and hoped we weren't the last one to notice as Dad sneakily put his finger aside his nose as we played his favourite game “Pig”. Our house was always filled with family holiday or Greyhound parties or neighbourhood get togethers, and Dad was always the first to get the games going. Even three years ago, on a river boat cruise down the Rhine, we all sat in the lounge one afternoon and the cruise director asked if our table of eight would like to join in a game of Name that Tune. Although we were not very interested, Dad certainly was and volunteered us. So, the game began and the first question came. It's about a song from 1930, so we all turn to Dad. He is sitting very upright but he is fast asleep. So, what do we do? We wake him up, give him the clue and right off the top of the head, he fires off the right answer. Needless to say, we had to wake him a few times but we won the game.
One of our best times was when Dad got the 8 millimeter movie camera. We loved performing while he filmed us, our cousins and friends as we danced around the house, or ice skated on the rink Dad made in the backyard. We smiled and waved as we roller skated around the basement or swam at Cedar Beach. But the most fun was movie night at the Taylor's. Dad invited our relatives or neighbours down the street and all us kids sat down in the front on the rug with our popcorn and Kool-Aid to see ourselves in the movies. Dad would attempt to threat the film into the projector, always a long process, sometimes it wouldn't catch and other times it just popped out the side onto the floor. But eventually the lights went out and there we all were on the big screen, upside down. Our dear neighbour, Mrs. Baldwin, didn't say a thing, just watched it sideways. Dad never seemed to get frustrated. He just yelled “turn the lights back on” and went at it again. Eventually he would get it rolling and we always got to see a few minutes before a big hole burnt through the film. One of the dearest things about Dad was how funny he could be without even knowing it.
When Dad wasn't busy amusing us, he did a lot of home improvements. He was always remodeling something, tearing down walls or building shelves or cupboards. Although his projects usually turned out well, mom told us if she'd known how many times he would cut his fingers or smash his thumb with a hammer, she would have invested in the Band-aid company years ago.
Dad was never one to sit around. If you ran into him on the street and asked “How are you, Len?”, he would say “Pretty good, considering old age and poverty”. He went to Lodge every Friday night and became a Shriner. He volunteered for the Kidney Dialysis Unit at Grace Hospital and always helped with the Goodfellows. Mom said if Dad even had an extra five minutes, he would volunteer for something else. Dad loved to play golf and did so up until the last three years when his arthritis prevented him doing so.
- trips to the cottage where he could sit on the dock and fish;
- walking hand and hand with our mom;
- having power tools that mom never wanted him to use;
- fixing old things into new or reusable objects;
- dancing, especially with mom;
- hearing or telling funny stories of any kind;
- calling the library to ask questions;
- dressing up in costumes with our aunts and uncles at parties;
- putting on scary masks to frighten mom;
- jumping off rafts or docks into the lake;
- making people feel comfortable and smile;
- socializing with his friends, new and old;
- going new places and doing new things;
- getting on his knees and covering himself with an old sheet and pretending he was a ghost at all neighbour's homes on Hallowe'en to get candy.
Dad loved a good book and old movies like “the Mummy” or the “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. He loved his trips to the casino and working in the yard while mom gardened. He loved a good joke and was a jokester himself.
He loved to hear of any of our accomplishments. He loved life and never wasted one precious moment. We know that he loved us all – his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – his own or acquired.
Music was always important to Dad and he enjoyed playing his trombone with the Senior Band and even played the Bells until they became too heavy for hm to lift. At home, Dad played the organ and we all sat around him as he played tunes from his songbooks. Almost every weekend, we piled into the family car and drove to Grandma and Grandpa Clarke's in Kingsville for Sunday dinner. We sang all the way there and back and Dad never seemed to run out of songs for us to sing.
We look back and remember with great fondness all the wonderful memories Dad has given us.
Our Dad was a kind and gentle man, who treasured our mother dearly. He was a sometimes quiet man with a quick wit and delightful sense of humour. He taught us that the little, considerate and probably unnoticed things that any of us can do for others are really the most important. He didn't mind being silly if he thought that he could make us laugh or smile and he always managed to do both.
We will all miss him in our own ways. Personally I will miss dancing with him, around my mother while she tried to cook, with her saying “out of my way, you crazy nuts”.
Dad, we know that you had grown very tired and it was time for you to leave us but we also know we were truly blessed to have you in our lives. We love you, Dad.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.John O'Sullivan and Margaret Scully of Clinton Twp. Mi
Cathie, so sorry to hear about your loss. Your parents always looked so cute in the pictures that you brought in. Thinking about you and your family during this time
Patti, I am sorry to hear of your father's passing. Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers over the coming days.
Patti, Mrs Taylor, Cathy and John, I am so sorry for your lose. I have such happy memories of your Dad, Patti. I just remember laughing at so many things around your house growing up. Your Dad was always in the middle of those funny things. Memories of him will always bring a smile to my face. My parents send their prayers and their thoughts and mine are with all of you and your family. With Love Beth