Sometime in the fall of 1946, on a blind date arranged by his folks and their close friends, the Cottles, Bill met Marilyn Massie, a coed at UCLA who lived about a mile from Bill. Marilyn was not particularly impressed with Bill at the time, later noting that he was very shy and did not have much to say about what he had been doing for the previous 3 years. Bill did not call Marilyn for a second date. Some weeks later while walking between classes at UCLA Bill ran into Marilyn and invited her to join him in the cafeteria for lunch. This time, in a more relaxed, neutral environment Bill and Marilyn hit it off.
Nature took its inevitable course, and on August 31, 1947 Bill and Marilyn, with another couple eloped to Yuma, Arizona where they were married by a justice of the peace. Due to circumstances, I believe mostly because of the strong will and maternal dominance of “Mudder”, Bill and Marilyn kept their marriage secret until the summer of 1948 when it was no longer possible to conceal an obviously pregnant Marilyn. On Friday, August 27th, 1948 Marilyn prematurely gave birth to a son, Gregory Lawrence Taylor. He weighed 5 ½ pounds.
With the birth of their first son, Marilyn dropped out of UCLA while Bill continued his studies which culminated with his graduation in June of 1949. During this time Bill, with the encouragement of his father-in-law, an old navy man, enlisted in the Naval Reserve with which he served for 2 years.
On November 27, 1950 Bill and Marilyn’s second son, Philip Steven Taylor was born. To support his family Bill took a position in the credit department at Los Angeles based Richfield Oil Company. He would remain employed in the credit field for the next 25 years.
Bill enjoyed writing and wrote a number of short-stories which he submitted for publication, but to my knowledge none were actually published. He also dabbled in art, another of his talents. He particularly enjoyed silk screening. On several occasions he silk screened Taylor Family Christmas Cards. One time, to my delight Bill painted a picture of “Popeye” on my school notebook. When he was the “Den Father” to my Webeloes Cub Scout group my dad silk screened a drawing of the group onto tee shirts for all the guys. This was in 1959 when nobody had ever seen a tee shirt with silk screened drawings on it.
In the mid 1970’s Bill went to work as a Contract Administrator for the U.S. Defense Department where he remained for 10 years until his retirement in 1984. Prior to this time Bill, who was a teetotaler during his army days, developed a drinking problem which plagued him for a number of years. It can never be know if his combat experiences contributed to Bill’s alcoholism, but some studies have indicated that the incidence of the disease is no higher among combat veterans than the general population.
In early 1983 Bill came to grips with his drinking problem and after a 30 day hospital stay became an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He would remain sober for the rest of his life. As a result of his sobriety and program of recovery in AA Bill decided to become a certified drug and alcoholism counselor.
Sometime in 1985 Bill began to experience weakness and muscle spasms in his extremities. After a number of erroneous diagnoses it was determined that he was a victim of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Bill fought the incurable disease with great courage but to no avail and he died peacefully on June 29, 1987. He was 61 years of age.
In closing this tribute to my father I would like to add a personal note. Bill was a loving and wonderful father. Like most families we had our problems. For a period of time during my adolescence we battled a great deal, but as I matured I discovered that my father wasn’t as clueless as I thought. In fact, he was a man of great wisdom. I see many elements of that wisdom in his letters. As I stated in the introduction to this blog, Bill spoke very little about his World War II experiences. I believe that, like most combat veterans, he wished to put that part of his life behind him. On several occasions he spoke of what it was like to be in combat. The remark that remains with me beyond all else is when he said that as much as he might like to explain combat, it is impossible to really convey what it is like to face death on a daily basis and to kill another human being. I still have not fully come to terms with this remark, but I think that Bill did. Either way Bill Taylor, my father, is and always will be my hero.