Bob Taylor passed away after many years of teaching and evan­ge­lizing.
Thompson Geesey Funeral Home | Courtesy

After many years of teaching, playing music, and evan­ge­lizing in Hillsdale, Robert “Bob” L. Taylor died at home on March 27 from a heart attack after a brief illness, less than a month away from turning 73.

“I used to say he was like a happy puppy — he was always cheerful, always had a smile,” his wife Sharon Taylor said. “I very seldom saw him down. He just was very cheerful, pos­itive, out­going, and he met friends wherever he went. He loved to talk, he loved to tell jokes, he loved life.”

A people-person, Bob Taylor was known for his sto­ry­telling and warm per­son­ality. After retiring from Lenawee Christian School in 2010, he con­tinued to perform with the Rifner Brass Quintet — which he helped found — and the Hillsdale Wind Sym­phony. He also served as an elder at Pine Ridge Bible Church and attended Equip Min­istry on campus each week.

“He was a renais­sance man, and liked a little bit of every­thing. He had pas­sions in life, and his pas­sions were his love of his God and his love of his family and his love of music. Almost every­thing Bob did revolved around one of those areas,” Sharon Taylor said.

Bob Taylor first began playing trumpet in high school band, inspired by a trumpet trio that visited the school. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Houghton College, his Master’s from Indiana Uni­versity at Bloom­ington, and his Doc­torate in music from the Uni­versity of North Texas.

He then taught music at Fort Wayne Com­munity Schools for 32 years before moving to Adrian, Michigan, to become a music teacher at Lenawee Christian School. Junior Madison Moore has known him ever since he taught her music in fourth grade.

“He was really great about meeting stu­dents where they were at. He worked really hard to be invested and to make sure we knew what we were doing,” Moore said. “He was def­i­nitely a warm per­son­ality, looking out for people and trying to keep con­nected with people and making sure they’re actually okay and not just appearing okay.”

When Bob Taylor earned his Doc­torate in music per­for­mance while teaching, Moore said the entire school cel­e­brated. Though most of his music stu­dents weren’t going on to pursue music as a career, Taylor still wanted to give music to them “to help them deal with life,” according to Wind Sym­phony Director Robert Liv­ingston.

“He was com­pas­sionate, loved the kids. He wanted them to grow as people as much or more than he wanted them to grow as musi­cians,” Liv­ingston said.

Even after retiring, Bob Taylor con­tinued to teach college stu­dents in private lessons as well as help coach other instru­men­talists in Wind Sym­phony.

“He was just the nicest guy. If he ever needed to correct someone in the section, he was always so nice about it. He loved working with kids, and some of his grandkids played songs on their instru­ments,” senior Shaine Timmins said. She plays in Wind Sym­phony with Bob and Sharon Taylor since her freshman year.

To many stu­dents, it’s not just “Bob,” it’s “Bob and Sharon” — whether it be trav­elling together with their grand­children or simply attending Equip together.

“One thing that was def­i­nitely empha­sized at his funeral was that he was very pas­sionate about the family and having strong fam­ilies and being a good father to his children and his step children and being a good husband. He def­i­nitely taught that to a lot of guys he dis­cipled in Equip,” senior Leah Hickman, an Equip leader, said.

He lived that prin­ciple out in Wind Sym­phony rehearsals, always car­rying Sharon’s trumpet in for her.

“One day there’s a downpour outside and Sharon comes in with this big black umbrella, totally dry. Bob comes in after her totally soaked and car­rying all of their stuff,” Timmins said.

When Steve Briix, pastor of Pine Ridge Bible Church, came to Hillsdale, he said the Taylors adopted him and his family, opening up their home during the hol­idays and spending time with them throughout the year.

“He really loved people and he wanted people to really know Jesus,” Briix said. “He wanted people to walk with Jesus, not just as some­thing they said but some­thing they really under­stood in their lives. He loved meeting with people indi­vid­ually, talking about life and their struggles and their troubles and helping them to follow Christ in those ways.”

In one instance, Bob and Briix traveled about an hour to Albion College for Inter­varsity. Bob met a young music major who wanted to discuss religion, and after a long con­ver­sation with her he asked her when her next recital was. A month later, Bob drove back to Albion with his wife for the recital, only to find the girl hardly even remem­bered who he was. Despite having met the girl only once, Bob wanted to be sure to show her his support.

“That was the kind of guy he was. He really cared about people and wanted to show interest in them and encourage them, espe­cially in their walk with the Lord,” Briix said.

Bob served as an elder as well as the choir director at Pine Ridge. He always had a book sug­gestion about Chris­tianity or the family, and he read about hymns at length.

“He was always reading things about music: how this hymn orig­i­nated or that hymn, he knew all the back­ground. I imagine if you could just throw a hymn out, he could tell you who wrote it, what the cir­cum­stances were sur­rounding it, and what inspired them to write it,” Briix said.

The Wind Sym­phony is brain­storming memorial ideas. Though details are still unde­ter­mined, they are con­sid­ering cre­ating a memorial fund schol­arship.

“We’re thinking we want to do some­thing that will last longer than a few hours at the funeral,” Liv­ingston said. The schol­arship might fund stu­dents taking private lessons, attending music camp, or winning a high school con­certo com­pe­tition.”

The funeral was well-attended, a tes­tament to his char­acter, according to Moore.

“Friends from high school, people from the college, and some people who I haven’t talked to in years from a lot of dif­ferent areas made the drive out for the funeral because he was that important of a person to a lot of people and def­i­nitely left his mark on the com­munity,” Moore said.

Bob is sur­vived by his wife Sharon, children Scott Taylor, Brenda (Douglas) Love­berry, and Bowdee Nolin, eight grand­children, and two brothers. He was pre­ceded in death by his parents.