July 21, 1923 - May 26, 2014
Marjorie Taylor was born Marjorie Jean Leonard in a little hamlet called Wilders Bottom, just a mile from Bonner Springs, Kansas on July 21, 1923. Her father, Charles Edward Leonard, was a telegraph operator for the railroad station close to their home. Her loving mother, Maudie Mae Barnwell, was like most women of that era, a stay at home mom. Marjorie was the third of four children, big brother Charles "Bud", Dorothy Mae "Dot", and little brother Ronald "Ronnie". Their little community was nestled in a narrow valley with fields of vegetables right up to their back door. Huge oak trees stood over a dozen or so homes, a little general store and a two room school house just across the road from Marjorie's home.
Maudie Mae's marriage was not a healthy one so she moved and left her husband behind. They took up an offer to drive a big, new car out to Oregon for free. They joined other Barnwell relatives who had moved several years earlier. The family settled into farm cabins, once living in tents by a peach orchard along the Willamette River in Independence.
As a child, Marjorie was more into playing outdoors than boys. It wasn't until her senior year at Salem High School that she met her first boyfriend, Enoch "Nick" Lonnie Herrell. Nick, a member of the National Guard, took a fancy and they married. Soon after, Marjorie became pregnant and Nick was called to duty. Their daughter, Billie Kay Herrell, was born on Dec.5, 1941. Nick served one active year and then came home to work as a machinist in Salem. They lived on a small farm in Eola. Soon after, Nick enlisted in the Seabee's, a Naval division focusing on construction. He helped build roads, runways and barracks on islands captured in the South Pacific.
During the war years, Marjorie and Dot, whose husband was also in the war, lived in Portland with their two toddlers, Billie Kay and Mike (Dot's older children DeWayne and Sandy went to Iowa to live with their father's parents). Marjorie worked in the shipyards as a "gofer".
After the war, Nick came home and they moved to Reno, NV to open a hobby shop. That didn't pan out; so attractive 22-year-old Marjorie worked as a cocktail waitress at Harrah's Club. As the hobby shop failed so did their marriage. Marjorie and her daughter returned to Oregon.
Once back in Oregon, Marjorie settled Billie Kay with her paternal grandparents in Eola, across the highway from the old two room schoolhouse. Marjorie found work in Salem for the State Credit Union, while living in a lively boarding house. Over the next four years she had many suitors but one outspoken, confident businessman won her heart and hand in marriage. Everette Deloss "Dee" Taylor was a widower with a four-year-old son, Larry Richard Taylor. Like Marjorie's daughter, Larry was living with his grandparents, Ed and Leila Taylor. Dee, his brother and their father owned and operated the local grocery store, meat market and drug store/soda fountain in Independence. Marjorie fit right in. She loved to decorate their home and was known to be Dee's hostess. He would call her from the store an hour before dinner and laughingly say, "put four more steaks on, I'm bringing home company for dinner and drinks".
Marjorie loved the small town and so did the kids and Dee. With Dee being a meat cutter, most any dinner could be prime rib, thick pork chops, filets and every Sunday, fried chicken. For Marjorie, home came first, and then it was golf and the Jr. Women's Club. Marjorie had lunch everyday at the soda fountain for about sixty years.
Marjorie and Dee worked hard, but enjoyed life. They traveled all corners of the world. Dee fought and lost a battle to cancer in 1983 in his early sixties, leaving Marjorie a home and the drug store/soda fountain. She hadn't worked for forty years, but she cleaned that building inside and out and became a community leader, helping to create the "Independence Downtown Association".
Marjorie's daughter Billie Kay, now a restaurant manager, moved to Independence in 1987 to help manage the soda fountain. Their lives revolved around the store, as did much of Independence. Marjorie enjoyed building publicity for their vintage shop, talking to reporters from local, national and international newspapers, magazines and TV programs. When mother and daughter could, they traveled around the globe, sometimes to buy merchandise for the store and other times just for pure pleasure. Marjorie and Billie Kay closed the store in 2005 and retired.
Marjorie was content to relax in her "Country Home" home, do a little traveling, volunteer at the Independence
Library, and play with her beloved cats, Annie and Buddy.
Marjorie left wonderful memories for her family, friends and citizens of Independence. Besides her children, Billie Kay and Larry, Marjorie is survived by her 6 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.
A celebration of her life will be at the Women's Club in Independence, Saturday, June 7th, from 2p to 4p.
Published in StatesmanJournal from June 3 to June 6, 2014