Family of deceased North Ogden mayor get keys to new home
NORTH OGDEN — Jennie Taylor, widow of fallen U.S. Army Major Brent Taylor, and her children accepted keys to their new home on Thursday during a Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors Have a Heart Home key ceremony with the help of Nilson Homes, the Northern Wasatch Home Builders Association, North Ogden City and many others.
“The new house looks nothing like our old house,” Taylor said, “and our lives look nothing like the one we thought we had.”
Taylor said she will never forget the day in December 2018 — nearly one month after her husband, then-Mayor Brent Taylor, who was deployed with the Utah Army National Guard, was killed while serving in Afghanistan — when she received a knock on the door from Robert Bolar, the real estate agent who sold them their home and surrounding land eight years ago.
Bolar and Jed Nilson, owner and president of Nilson Homes, approached Taylor about building her family a new home. While moved by the gracious offer, Taylor said she was not interested in a new house, expressing that she wanted to keep the home she had made with her husband — the last home she and her kids had with their father.
After months of consideration while also mourning their loss, the Taylor family decided to accept Nilson’s offer, coming to the conclusion they could benefit from a new space to live their new life.
It took a couple of years of going back and forth with the city over planning and how the new home would sit, but on Dec. 13, 2021, ground was finally broken on what would become the Taylors’ forever home.
As their home started to take shape, Jennie Taylor said she was in awe over the many views of Ben Lomond peak, recalling that her husband had kept a picture of it on his cellphone.
The very same beauty of Ben Lomond captured in the photo Brent Taylor had taken from his office window when he was mayor is etched in his headstone.
“This is so much more than a house. To me, it is symbolism of God’s hand and Brent’s hand in our lives,” Taylor said.
The outpouring of support was incredible, Nilson said. Donations for the project, including labor and materials from various suppliers, sub-contractors and tradesman, reached well over six figures, according to Nilson.
“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of,” he said of the Nilson Home team’s efforts.
Nilson, who became visibly emotional while explaining he has always had a love and appreciation for the military, did not hesitate to answer “yes” when asked if he would participate in the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors’ Have a Heart Home project.
“She’s got to be one of the most gracious humans I’ve interacted with,” Nilson said of Taylor.
“I feel like me and my kids have a pretty unsayable debt,” Taylor said of the many blessings, love and support they have received since her husband’s death.
Mike Arrington, construction manager with Nilson Homes, said the dedication from tradesman and others working on the project was “night and day” compared to that being done on 30 additional homes he was managing at the same time.
The time from the day ground broke on the Taylor home until the City of North Ogden granted occupancy was 170 days. Arrington said the timeline in which the house was constructed is unheard of, but the support and dedication was there.
According to Taylor, at least one person but often more were at the site working every day of the week.
State Rep. Ryan Wilcox thanked all who stepped up to fulfill a need. “It matters,” he said.
Taylor said they will be working the rest of our lives to pay it forward in any way they can.
Nilson said he wants build one Have a Heart Home a year for veterans who need it. Nilson spoke of homeless veterans, the sacrifices they made to protect the country’s freedoms and luxuries and how 2,300 of them bed down without a roof over their heads on any given night in Utah.