Leland Don Taylor Sr.


On Wednesday, Jan. 6, heaven opened up, and Leland Don Taylor Sr., having lived 85 years on this earth, walked into the arms of his loving savior for eternity. 

Don was born in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Sept. 4, 1935, to Walter and Lola Taylor. He grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Southeast High School in 1954. From 1954 through 1964, Don served his country in the Air Force Reserve. On Jan. 27, 1955, Don married the love of his life, Marlene Husted. Together, they began their family and embarked on a journey of love and commitment that would endure for almost 66 years. In 1957 the couple welcomed their first child, Leland Don “Mick” Taylor Jr. A few years later, Julie Minyon Taylor Long joined the family. And a few years after Julie came Robert Bryan “Bob” Taylor. Don and Marlene’s family grew throughout the years to include two daughters-in-law, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. In 1957, Don began what would be a 20-year career with the Oklahoma City Police Department. During those years, he rose in ranks from patrolman, to detective and eventually head of the Youth Bureau. After retiring from OKCPD in 1977, Don continued his service to the state of Oklahoma as an auditor for the Motor Fuel Division. Don’s service to the state ended in 1994. 

Those who knew Don know that it is impossible to talk about his life without mentioning the church. A devout Christian, he attended church regularly — instilling a love for the Lord and the church in his family. Always a servant-leader, he served the churches he and his family attended as a deacon or an elder. In 1995, Don and Marlene answered the call to become missionaries to Guatemala through an organization called CAM International. For the next eight years, the couple would travel to the Central American country and minister to other missionaries as well as the Guatemalan people. In 1999, Don and Marlene chose Pagosa Springs as their home and have been residing here since that time. 

During his years in Oklahoma, Don developed a love for gardening and brought it with him to Pagosa. During the summer months, he could be found in his greenhouse or on his back deck tending his beautiful tomato plants or concocting potions to keep the neighborhood deer away from his beloved flowers and vegetables. 

Don was greeted in heaven by his parents; sisters Billie Taylor, Glenna Wall and Janelle Taylor; his brother, James Robert Taylor; his first granddaughter, Natalie Taylor; his daughter, Julie Taylor Long; and his nephew, Greg Wall. He is survived by his wife, Marlene; sons Don and Bob Taylor and their wives, Jan and Jazniya; grandchildren Cody Long and wife Aubrey, Aubrey Edwards and husband Luke, Nick Long and wife Randi, Christian Taylor and wife Ashley, Bryan Long and wife Meggan, Evan Meacham and wife Leah, Lucas Meacham, Leilanee Taylor and Giovanni Taylor; great-grandchildren Avery Sloan, Easton Sloan, Jett Sloan, Emersyn Edwards, Knox Taylor, Austen Taylor, Brooklyn Taylor, Laney Long, Reed Long, Ashlyn Long and Jackson Long; brothers-in-law Steve Patrick and wife Jane, and Rick Patrick and Sue Ann Clark; niece Linda Karanian and her husband, Richard; great-nieces Jennifer Karanian and her husband, Charlie Myers, their children Gael and Valen, Jasmine Norcross and her children, Stella and Lucy; and former daughter-in-law Jill Bowler.

Don’s life was characterized by the word “service.” Service to his God. Service to his family. Service to his country. And service to his state. His family and friends will forever remember him as a funny man who loved them well and lived his faith out loud for the world to see. He was a black and white man who lived in an increasingly gray world — a student and a teacher who taught without saying a word. By watching the way in which he lived his life, we all learned so many valuable lessons.