A Life Lived: Horton Taylor, a man driven to laughter

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Horton Taylor

Horton Taylor

Horton Taylor had a zest for life and he lived to have fun. He almost would have qualified as a professional storyteller and prankster.
Taylor, who never saw 2017, died Dec. 30 at the age of 78.
His daughter, Monnie Kechter, said when the family was receiving friends at the funeral home for Horton, a young boy paused as he walked passed the casket to steal a brief look at her father. “I could also hear my father holler ‘Boo!” at the boy and then raise up and laugh heartily. That was my father’s nature and character.,” she said.
“My father was a storyteller. Storytelling was a pasttime to him. He told stories for all ages, both grownups and kids. He never tired of telling stories. He enjoyed making people laugh,” Monnie shared.
In many ways Horton Taylor remained a kid at heart all his life. He liked playing pranks, In fact, he just liked playing. He played pool, blackjack and other card games, and he especially enjoyed attending ballgames. Monnie said her father was a big Twins fans, and attended many of the Elizabethton Twins baseball games. “He never missed a ballgame that his grandkids played in. He attended T.A. Dugger Junior High football and baseball games. He enjoyed watching the kids play,” she said.
Friends said Horton enjoyed getting involved in the games. He was a big cheerleader, and would rally the kids. His heart was always for the game and the kids who played.
“I remember he built a small building adjacent to our house and opened a neighborhood store in it. My mom ran the store, and my dad helped her some. He enjoyed helping people. If someone came to the store and didn’t have the money to purhase what they needed, he would let them buy it on credit. He was always giving kids money for gum, candy, and a bottle of pop,” Monnie said.
Horton Taylor not only enjoyed his family – two sons and a daughter, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren – but he also provided well for them when they were growing up. He dropped out of high school and went to work at North American Rayon. He worked there for 31 years and later at PSG. He also painted houses on the side to make a little extra money for his family. When he was a teenager, he worked at the Pig & Whistle, a local eatery.
Horton was an avid fisherman, and, of course, had a few “big fish” stories in his arsenal of stories. “We lived on the river, and Dad often took my brothers and me fishing and his grandchildren, too,” Monnie said.
As well as having a funny bone, Horton Taylor had a generous heart. “My mom and dad owned a house which they rented to students attending Moody Aviation. Most of the students were preparing to be missionary pilots and my dad was among their greatest supporters. He and Mom supported some of them financially, and he always shared produce from his garden with them. He enjoyed teaching them things about gardening as well,” Monnie said.
Monnie said her father had a short attention span. “He could never sit through a TV show,” she said. Thus, it became hard for him when he lost his ability to walk a short time before he died. “My 15-year-old son would pick him up and put him in the car and we rode him around, to the river and other places,” Monnie said.
“After my mother died in 2013, my daddy could never move on. Yet, he wanted to be here for his children and grandchildren. He never wanted to be a Hospice patient. He never gave up,” Monnie said.
There was so much more to Horton Taylor than being a “funny” person. He was a veteran, having served with the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He was a Christian and a member of Pleasant Beach Baptist Church. “He never became a Christian until he was an adult, but when he made the change, it was for real,” a friend said.
If Horton Taylor had a wish, it would be to remember him with smiles and laughter, and once in a while tell a funny story. He would tell you that laughter doesn’t cost a thing.

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