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.Continue reading A Happy 98th Birthday Tribute to a Fair Haven Icon: Ray Taylor
When you run into forever Fair Havenite Ray Taylor, you’re always met with a smile and a lot of gratitude. Never a complaint — unless the 97-year-old is told to slow down.
The conversation may have been had days, weeks, months or years ago. Yet, if it’s a conversation with Mr. Taylor, it will usually come back to bless you at the strangest of moments, make you smile and motivate you to be a better person, a bigger part of your community. A little mazeltov, if you will.Continue reading Hometown Gem: Fairing Well with Fair Haven’s Ray Taylor
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wouldn’t ever want to be anywhere else but here today,” Fair Haven’s second oldest living World War II and Korean War veteran Ray Taylor said with a teary-eyed smile as someone shook his hand and thanked him for his service. He then gently placed his decorated hat back on his head after holding it over his heart for The Pledge of Allegiance that began the Fair Haven Veterans Day service on Friday.
Memorial Park was filled beyond capacity with veterans, police, firemen, children, parents and officials who were there to pay homage to those who have served and still are serving.
The fall sun cast a warm glow on the patriotic spirit of the ceremony of honor.
Take a look … Thank you to our veterans.
— Elaine Van Develde
It’s now common knowledge that 91-year Fair Haven resident Ray Taylor recently received a proclamation for his service to the country and borough.
The active 93-year-old World War II and Korean War vet has been seen at just about any and/or every event in town over the years, especially any involving veterans affairs.
So, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day take a look back at Taylor at some of those events: Chum Chandler’s memorial service, the Fair Haven Centennial Parade, Memorial Day and more.
Taylor, Mayor Ben Lucarelli said while reading the proclamation last week, embodies the spirit of Fair Haven and patriotism.
Yes, he does!
— Elaine Van Develde
By Elaine Van Develde
“It hurts me to say that most of the boys that went out there with me are no longer here. But I am doing all I can to keep their names out there for you. Thank you.”
It’s what a tearful Ray Taylor said after receiving a proclamation from the Borough of Fair Haven last week in honor of his service as a World War II and Korean War veteran and 91-year resident of Fair Haven who has consistently served the borough as a veteran who spearheaded the creation of Fair Haven’s Memorial Park that honors veterans from the borough.
Taylor was the “first speaker at borough ceremonies since the time he returned from World War II in 1946, touching the hearts of many,” Mayor Ben Lucarelli said at last week’s Borough Council meeting.
“As long as any of us can remember, Ray has spoken at our Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies,” the mayor said. “He is a very special human being. This year his words were so poignant that I was moved to say this is a special individual and he should be recognized.”
So, a proclamation and keys to both the borough and the park were given to Taylor.
Taylor and his wife, Elizabeth, raised seven children in Fair Haven. They have 20 grandchildren and “many great grandchildren,” Lucarelli said, reading from the proclamation, which he said was bestowed upon Taylor as an expression of borough residents’ and staff’s “deep appreciation and gratitude to Ray for his many years of selfless public service to his country and his hometown.
“We wish him many more years of health and continued happiness.”
Taylor, 93, was born on June 24, 1922 in Long Branch. Moving to Fair Haven in 1924, he has spent 91 years in the borough. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II from 1942 to 1946 and in the Korean War in the 1950s when he worked his way up to the rank of sergeant first class and received a distinguished service medal and a Korean War commemorative medal.
While serving in World War II, he was stationed in Australia, New Guinea, New Britain, Guam, the Philippenes, Japan and spent 14 months in Alaska.
He was stationed in the Asian Pacific during the Korean War.
Congratulations, Mr. Taylor; and thank you!
You see him in every parade, at just about every event around town and always ready to lend a hand with a smile, respectful nod and gentlemanly demeanor.
He is lifetime Fair Havenite Ray Taylor and he has been unanimously nominated for Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect’s Retro Pic of the Day featuring good neighbors.
The veteran of World War II and the Korean War is in his 90s and has nothing but love for his hometown and its people.
Whenever he gets the chance, Taylor lets people know that he remembers those in the community who were pillars without pretense — good neighbors, volunteers and friends. He talks about them, offers his anecdotes on what each gave to the town he loves and encourages others to never forget, but to emulate them.
Teary eyed, he told children at the Veterans Day service in Fair Haven a couple of years ago that they are the future and that they should learn right away to “do your best for our beautiful community. I was raised here; and, if i die, I’ll die here.”
Thanks, Ray Taylor, for being a community role model and a good neighbor to all.
By Elaine Van Develde
“Many of those who were drafted into war many years ago were only seniors in high school. They were so young, their faces looked like dough,” Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, explaining the significance of what is dubbed the Doughboy Statue that stands at Memorial Park.
It’s where the Veterans Day ceremony in the borough took place on Tuesday. It’s also where some of those once dough-faced soldiers, now wearing the passage of time and life experience on their faces and in their eyes, gathered to pay tribute to fellow vets, those who have passed, those killed in the line of duty and those still in service.
They gathered in both Fair Haven and Rumson.
In Fair Haven, World War II vet Warner White, recipient of the Purple Heart award and Combat Infantry Badge, made his way up to the mic to speak of his time on the Atlantic French Coast at Utah Beach (D plus 94) and the Battle of the Bulge.
A native of Ohio, White has made Fair Haven his home since 1962.
Modest, as many World War II vets are, White quipped, “Ya see this picture of me here (pointing to the program). They make it look like I’m saluting. I really wasn’t. I was just combing my hair.”
He spoke of his experiences and all listened intently, including the very young, doughy-faced students in attendance.
Also recognized were a couple of the oldest living World War II vets in the audience: Ray Taylor, who served in Korea as well, and Oscar Hille, of the U.S. Army Air Corps. Also still living in Fair Haven, Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect has learned, is 97-year-old World War II vet, Ken Curchin.
In Rumson, special recognition was paid to Jack Donovan Fowler, who was a First Lieutenant in the 7th Armored Division of the Battle of the Bulge.
Captain Daniel J. Edwards was the “presiding officer of the day” for the ceremony and Captain Mike Lilley, of the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke. Lilley, a Rumson resident, is executive director of Better Education for Kids, Inc.
All are the faces of service to the country. There were many thank-you’s and handshakes Tuesday morning. And Mayor Lucarelli called for that and more consideration to be a constant.
“In war there are and (have been) so many casualties and lives lost … Many who served and return have wounds that cannot be seen, such as post traumatic stress disorder and brain trauma …
“If you see a vet, thank a vet. If you see a vet and it seems like he’s having a hard time, understand. Go up to him and comfort him if you can.”
The casualties of the wars …
• World War I, 115,000 lives lost;
• World War II, 405,000 lives lost;
• Korean War, 36,000 lives lost;
• Vietnam, 50,000;
• Persian Gulf conflicts, 7,000.
By Elaine Van Develde
Both the boroughs of Rumson and Fair Haven will commemorate Veterans Day on the same day, same time — Nov. 11 at 11 a.m..
“The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli said.
In Rumson, the ceremony will take place in the usual spot by the war memorial in Victory Park. It will feature members of the armed forces and veterans of various wars as highlighted speakers and participants.
In Fair Haven, the service will take place at Memorial Park. Remaining World War II vets from the borough will be in attendance, the town’s oldest living World War II and Korean War vet, Ray Taylor, 93, will be a featured speaker.
“He’s (Taylor) is a very special man,” Lucarelli said. “It’s always an honor to hear him speak.”
Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will feature photo galleries of both events.