Jeff Taylor loved to talk.
About just about anything, and with just about anyone who would listen.
Taylor also liked to dream big, and so often whatever he set his mind to became a reality.
He was a fan of Jay Leno, the Pittsburgh Steelers, cars — especially MGs — and was always meticulous in his approach to whatever idea popped into his head.
Taylor loved his job — whatever his role was — and always displayed the kind of work ethic that surely rubbed off on many of the people he worked with.
Likely, most encounters with Taylor left you with a brighter outlook on your day.
Sometimes those encounters made you late for where you were headed — I knew it would be about 10 minutes before I could find an opening to excuse myself and get to my destination.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all of our conversations — especially the ones after he announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2017 school year because it was always fun to bring up his retirement clock.
Taylor always, always, had a smile on his face — whether he was behind a camera filming video of various games or practices, or later when he moved over to helping with event management at Oregon State — and my day was made a little bit better each time.
It was a sad moment when that retirement clock finally reached zero, as I knew those times were gone.
So when I read a story a week or so ago that he and his wife, Madeline, had been in a car accident near Junction City on June 19 and Taylor had passed away, my heart sank.
It just didn't seem fair, as if often the case in untimely deaths.
On Saturday, a few hundred people gathered inside Gill Coliseum to celebrate Taylor’s life, hearing a number of stories that most in attendance could easily relate to in one way or another.
It was lighthearted affair that lasted just over an hour and culminated with a video tribute filled with some fun moments, including the time Taylor was ushered off the Reser Stadium turf by the game officials when he lined up on the field at the goal line for a kickoff.
Here are just a few of the memories people shared about Taylor and the impact he had on their lives and others. It’s a quick glimpse into a man who touched the lives of so many.
Pat Sweeney, who he became friends with Taylor while both attended Willamette University, told the story of how Taylor managed to talk his way on to the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle.
Taylor, who was putting together an audition clip of a Seahawks exhibition game for NFL Films, wanted to do more than just shoot game action.
So he set out to recreate a poster that Sweeney once saw that had the Space Needle in the foreground, then the monorail and on the horizon the Kingdome.
After some explanation, someone in charge in the restaurant suggested to get the best shot they should head to the roof. So up Taylor went, and he got the shot.
That was the highlight, however, as the camera broke during the game and Taylor was unable to capture much footage.
Former OSU football player Tim Euhus met Taylor when he was a student-athlete and continued to build a relationship in the years that followed to where he served as a financial planner for Taylor.
Euhus shared how Taylor constantly asked him if, in the event of his death, which he said was going to happen soon, his wife would be taken care of.
No matter how many times Euhus told him she would be, Taylor always wanted/needed to be reassured.
“We all know we’re going to surround Maddie and just love on her and remember Jeff with our memories and all the things he’s passionate about,” Euhus said.
Taylor didn’t know much about gymnastics when he started at Oregon State, but quickly became a fan. Whenever possible he would be waiting at the bus to send the team off to a competition and wish them luck, and he would typically be there when they returned.
That continued after his retirement as he was outside Gill Coliseum to welcome the team home after it returned from the national championships this past season. He had flowers and was able to give each girl on the team one for finishing sixth.
“That was really special to the team but that was the kind of man that Jeff was," assistant coach Michael Chaplin said.
“It didn’t matter whether you were a head coach of the football team, you were security or an assistant coach, Jeff would get to know you, he would listen to you and he was a great guy to talk to. He had a great spirit about him.”
Chaplin also reflected on the first time he met Taylor — whose energy and enthusiasm made him believe Taylor would do just fine videoing the sport even though he didn’t have any experience — and the last time he had lunch with him a few weeks back.
“It was all the same,” Chaplin said. “Jeff was this wonderful, energetic, positive human being and I’m so lucky he was part of my life and part of our program and part of the athletic department.”
That’s likely the same way each person in attendance felt Saturday.