Clifford John Taylor, 89, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, at Providence Brookside Manor in Hood River, Ore. He was born to John and Ella Taylor in Spokane, Wash., on Dec. 25, 1924, his dad’s birthday, joining a sister and two brothers, all in their teens.
While young, his family moved to Portland, Ore., where he graduated from Franklin High School in 1942. His childhood battle with asthma almost kept him from serving in the military, but after signing a health waiver he was trained and served as a weatherman in the Army Air Corp/Air Force until World War II ended.
After his military discharge in 1946, he attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., studying for a degree in teaching. This is where he met his future wife, Mary Lois (Mel) Bovee. They were married in her parents’ yard on Whidbey Island in June 1947. Cliff graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in science and math. Their first daughter, Mary Beth (Copper), was born in 1949 while they lived in Spokane.
Teaching jobs were scarce for first-time teachers, so he took a position on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Busby, Mont. Living just 50 miles from Custer Battlefield, this was much more than a teaching job. He and Mel were house parents to 30 Cheyenne and Crow children, ages 6-17. He taught, Mel cooked, and they both got busy parenting these children living in a dormitory setting to go to school. Their second daughter, Lee Ann (Routson), was born in Busby, Mont., in 1951 while still living on the reservation.
Cliff and Mel moved from the reservation in 1952. Over the next 11 years, Cliff taught in Lind, Wash., Fort Benton, Mont., and Phoenix, Ariz. With each move came the birth of another child! John Taylor was born in 1955 in Lind, Jo Ella (Sellers) in 1957 in Fort Benton, and Lisa (Calmettes) in Phoenix in 1962. His lifelong struggle with asthma caused many of these moves, and in 1963 Cliff and family moved to Hood River, Ore., where he lived for 51 years, with no more asthma!
Cliff loved teaching, especially to those who really wanted to learn. First at Wy’east High School, and then at Hood River Valley High School, he taught “New Math,” calculus, trigonometry, physics and weather. He formally retired in Hood River in 1989, but continued teaching at Horizon Christian School, as well as tutoring many students over the next 20 years, a 48-year teaching career.
More than anything, Cliff loved studying and teaching the Bible. He led many Bible studies, Bible clubs, and served as an elder, first at the Christian and Missionary Church and later at Shepherd of the Valley Bible Church. Even after his diagnosis of dementia in 2011, most days would find him with at least one Bible in his lap, studying. Often confused about life, he was most lucid when praying or singing hymns with those he loved.
Even with his downward spiral, he never lost the twinkle in his eye, or his love of teasing! His family will be forever grateful for the wonderful, compassionate care he received from the Brookside and Heart of Hospice caregivers. Cliff has indeed “fought the good fight, finished the race, and held firmly to his faith.”
Cliff is survived by his wife, Mel Taylor; their children, Mary Beth Copper (Tim) of Battle Ground, Wash., Lee Ann Routson (Marv) of Parkdale, Ore., John Taylor (Janet), of Hood River, and Lisa Calmettes (Dave), of Milwaukie, Ore.; 17 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ella, his brothers, Art and Harold, his sister, Jessie, and his daughter, Jo Ella Sellers.
A memorial service with reception will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, at Christian Missionary Alliance Church, 2650 Montello Ave., Hood River, OR 97031, in celebration of Cliff’s life.
Memorials are encouraged to be made in Cliff’s name to Stars of India Missions c/o Shepherd of the Valley Bible Church.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center, 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River, OR 97031; 541-386-1000. Please visit andersonstributecenter.com to leave a note of condolence for family.
Condolences are being received online.
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