NORTH OGDEN — Brent Taylor lived with his aunt and uncle and their children while he attended Brigham Young University.
“He kept our boys in stitches,” said Dave Tipton, Taylor’s uncle.
Tipton drove to Weber County on Saturday to attend the 40th birthday party for the late Utah National Guard major and North Ogden mayor, who died in Afghanistan last November.
Tipton remembers Taylor treated his sons as brothers, not nephews.
“He was mature beyond his years,” Tipton said.
Taylor also was able to get access to treats for his nephews that the Tiptons kept in food storage. Taylor knew the boys were prohibited from raiding those treats but he could get around the prohibition for them.
“He had a knack for bringing people together,” Tipton said.
Taylor’s wife, Jennie, charged around North Ogden Park on Saturday afternoon, getting the birthday party going with the help of a staff of a couple dozen friends, neighbors and relatives.
Flags festooned the walkways, bowery and shade tents as dozens of attendees filed through food lines, socialized and stopped to make donations for the foundation Jennie Taylor and her seven children recently started.
Jennie Taylor said a group of friends volunteered to take charge of organizing the party, which was a celebration of her husband’s life and a fundraising shot in the arm for the foundation.
“I just showed up — they did everything,” she said, although she was rushing from one location to the next, issuing instructions while alternately getting hugs and handshakes from well-wishers.
What would Brent Taylor think of his posthumous birthday bash?
“I think he would love it,” she said. “This is what America is all about. People getting together and making something good out of the bad. In fact, this is something he would do.”
Since her husband’s passing, Jennie Taylor has made a public impact, championing veterans’ issues, patriotic causes and community growth, and honoring his legacy.
Asked if she ever gets time to herself, Taylor said she’s been busy nonstop since the couple married, and the pace has quickened since her husband died.
“I think being idle is not good,” she said. “And I’ve learned how to cry and laugh at the same time.”
She said she went jogging Saturday morning “and I was bawling” during the run.
But Saturday evening she was in high spirits.
“Life is very good,” she said. “Our family’s life has not stopped. When things happen in life, you adjust.”
Another uncle of Brent Taylor’s, Richard Taylor of South Ogden, said his nephew had a great impact on the extended family and exemplified the service of those in the armed forces.
“Some of them paid the ultimate sacrifice and they should not be forgotten,” he said.
The Major Brent Taylor Leadership Legacy Foundation aims to raise at least $160,000 annually.
Jennie Taylor said $60,000 would go for an undergraduate scholarship at Brigham Young University, and a combined $100,000 to the University of Utah for a pair of postgraduate degrees.
Brent Taylor was an undergraduate at BYU, and at Utah received a master’s degree and was working on a doctorate.
Jennie Taylor announced creation of the foundation last month. She said she hoped the effort would pull in $40,000 by the time of the birthday party.