A Happy 98th Birthday Tribute to a Fair Haven Icon: Ray Taylor

Images of Ray Taylor
Photos/Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven’s iconic Ray Taylor is two years shy of a centenarian today. That means he’s just about as old as his hometown. It also means that he has a cache swelling with love, memories and future plans for the place he has called home for longer than most.

Most every Fair Havenite has a Ray Taylor story. And there’s every indication that, as with future birthdays for this borough treasure of a man, there are many more to come.

He’s always about town, running a borough-related errand, chatting with neighbors and friends and imparting a few words of wisdom or simple conversation. He’s always there for an event, hanging out at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, speaking at friends’ memorials, Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies, parading, and just plain living the dream of small town life with a content smile.

Ray Taylor loves Fair Haven and Fair Haven loves him. That love of home he has emulated with nary a NIMBY word has made him an unwitting role model, making it very clear that his love is here to stay.

Many have felt that Ray Taylor love deeply since they were children, taking it in and turning it into their own brand of Fair Haven pride.

One of those kids was former Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge. He said so in a letter to Taylor that went in a special birthday booklet brought to him over the weekend by Joe Perrotto, representing the Knollwood School Wall of Honor Committee.

Ray Taylor not only fought in World War II and the Korean War, he fought, in his own hometown, racism as a boy, not even allowed to attend the borough’s Knollwood and Willow Street Schools. But he kept trucking, in his own gentile stride around town, with grace and wisdom to impart. Others learned from it all.

Today is a different kind of birthday for a man like Taylor, who would normally be out and about chatting up the borough folks and having a party. It’s a more secluded birthday because of another war he has had to add to his life’s fight — a pandemic. No worries for him, though. As usual, as people always hear him say about town, he’s “fine, just fine.”

Well, except for one thing … one complaint in 98 years that came last year “… do you know they won’t let me push my lawn mower?? They won’t let me do it anymore! I always liked to push my mower! Oh, well. I guess I’ll just get by with walking around the town.” And he does … in a walk of honor to the many honored to be his Fair Haven friend and neighbor.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Taylor! Thank you for making people feel the love of home deep in their hearts with your smile!

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management