Samuel John Taylor was born in Moab, Utah on May 28, 1933, the seventh child of L.L. “Bish” Taylor and Pearl Watts “Sis” Taylor. He died Nov. 15, 2010.
Sam grew up exploring the red rock canyons and mountains of the Moab area, and he dearly loved any outdoor event, whether it be to fish, hunt, jeep, camp or garden. As the youngest child in a large family, he was watched over by busy parents and four older sisters who doted on his upbringing. But he also had lots of independent time on his hands, when as a boy he would hike the hills near his home on 200 East, and tend to his farming responsibilities. He told many a fond story of driving his red Farmall tractor to the family farm on 500 West to tend the crops and milk the cow; he even drove himself to the hospital one day when he was having an appendicitis attack and his parents were out of town.
Sam was educated in Moab and graduated from Grand County High School in 1951. He often recounted that his life as a student was made a little more difficult under the critical eye of his aunt, Helen M. Taylor Knight, who was the superintendent. He was a good student and was active in football and basketball; the winning football from a memorable game is still on display at Grand County High School.
After graduation, Sam attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City and was a member of the football team. His athletic career, and his tenure as Westminster student body president, to which he had been elected, were cut short when he enlisted in the Army and served in Japan during the Korean Conflict.
When Sam returned to the states after two years overseas, he found a much-changed Moab due to the advent of the uranium boom. He also found a family business in a bit of a shambles.
While he was in the Army his father had been called by the governor to serve a six-year stint on the Utah Industrial Commission, which was a full-time job in the state capitol building, and during that time the elder Taylor leased the newspaper to another party. When Sam stepped back into the offices of The Times-Independent, he had to use his final G-I check to make payroll.
Sam also began taking classes at the University of Utah, from which he graduated several years later. His studies focused not only on journalism, but on rocks. His interest in the varied topography of the Colorado Plateau, coupled with the frenetic mining activity for gas and uranium in southeastern Utah, almost caused Sam to major in geology.
Sam grew up the son of a country printer. His parents were active in community and state interests, and he likewise went on to spend a large part of his life in public service. But first and foremost, Sam was a newspaperman. Sam’s father, Bish, became publisher of The Times-Independent in 1911 at the age of 19. In 1956, Sam took the reins, and he was later joined as editor/publisher by his wife Adrien. He celebrated 50 years as publisher in August of 2007.
Sam married Adrien Foote on Feb. 3 1961. They have been married for nearly 50 years. They have four children: Tom Taylor, Sena Taylor Hauer (John), Jed Taylor, and Zane W. Taylor (Molly). They have six grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way: Allyssa Keogh (Nathan), Zane C. Taylor (Kemrey), Abigail Taylor, Zachary Taylor, Taylor Flanders and Adam Flanders.
Sam served on countless boards, including nine years on the Grand County Board of Education, and five years on the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board. In the 1960s he was appointed to the Utah Senate when uranium magnate Charlie Steen left the post. Sam was elected to a subsequent term, and when that ended, then-Gov. Calvin Rampton appointed him to the Utah Department of Transportation Commission where he served for 21 years under five different governors. He was chairman of that board for nine years, and resigned in 1993.
The Times-Independent is a longtime member of the Utah Press Association, the oldest trade association in Utah. Sam served a term as president of the UPA in 1962, and was given the Utah Master Publisher Award in 1972, “for distinguished service and substantial contributions to the press of Utah.” The award reads, “He has worked hard, lived honorably, thought soundly, influenced unselfishly, and is entitled to the highest honor in his profession.” The Times-Independent, under the guidance of Sam and Adrien, has received the R. La Vaun Cox Community Service Award five times; more than any other newspaper in the state.
In the 1980s Sam received honorary doctorate degrees from Southern Utah State College (now SUU) and the College of Eastern Utah. He and Adrien were given the Circle of Honor Award last May during graduation ceremonies at Grand County High School. The honor is given to individuals who have shown utmost support of local schools.
Sam was a charter member of the Moab Rotary Club and served a term as president, and he was a member of the Moab Area Chamber of Commerce and served a term as president. He was also a member of the Moab Lions Club.
In September, the La Sal Masonic Lodge of Moab presented Sam with a 50-year membership pin. Sam was a lifelong member of the Moab Community Church.
Sam’s witty stories have been enjoyed by hundreds of people over the years who have followed his weekly columns in The Times-Independent. For more than 50 years he wrote about community and state politics, gardening and farming, family and friends, and his memories of early Moab. Each election time, he gave thoughtful consideration to ballot issues, and explained the pros and cons to his readers. His popular column evolved from “Community Comments” to “The Way Sam Remembers It.” He rarely if ever missed a week.
When Sam’s father died in 1972, Bish’s obituary read, “The list of boards, committees, commissions, offices and responsibilities accruing to him is endless. Seldom in his half-century of service did he have an evening he could call his own…” The same can be said of Sam.
He is survived by his wife Adrien, his four children, six grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. He was fiercely proud of his family and loved them very much.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his four sisters and their husbands: Cecil Gilmore (Art), Miriam Henderson (Zane), Lorena Hornby (George), Sally Zogg (Bill) and two brothers who died as infants.
Services are under the direction of Kimmerle-Hefner Funeral Home. The ceremony will be Saturday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Moab Grand Center on 500 West, conducted by La Sal Masonic Lodge of Moab. A viewing will be held the prior evening, Nov. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home, 36 South 100 West. Interment will be at Grand Valley Cemetery.
Donations can be made in Sam’s memory to the Grand County High School Marching Band, 608 South 400 East, Moab, UT 84532.