Rick “Ricky” “Papa” Taylor
Rick Taylor passed away gently sleeping next to his best friend, love of his life, and caring wife of 42 years the evening of December 16, 2021. Named after the charming husband in his mom’s favorite TV show I Love Lucy, Ricky Lee Taylor was born in La Grande, Oregon in 1953. From there Ricky (who preferred to go by Rick) set out on a life of bringing joy and happiness to everyone. He obtained his college degree from Southern Oregon University in 1975 and then began a lifelong career with Oregon State Parks. He was a young park ranger in 1978 when he met a girl working at her parents’ gas station and grocery store near Lake Billy Chinook where he was stationed. Convinced he could make her happy, he pursued her with TV-worthy charm, around her over-protective father, through her gauntlet of brothers who attempted to strand him in the woods on multiple hunting trips, and abetted by their frequent nighttime runaways.
Kathryn Becker and Rick Taylor were married on January 20, 1979. They were constantly by each other’s side throughout a marriage that led them from park-to-park, as Rick was promoted from one position to another within Oregon State Parks. Rick paid it forward, bringing their three boys, Nick, Chris, and Pat, to state tournament after state tournament, as Kathy pursued a very successful high school volleyball and basketball coaching career. They ultimately settled in Newport, Oregon for 8 years, before moving to Baker City, Oregon in 1994, where their three boys attended high school, and where Kathy and Rick retired together in 2006.
Even in retirement, Rick continued his legacy of joy and happiness. Just ask his friends at the Baker City Lions Club, who will remember him flipping pancakes and jokes with equal measure. Or his colleagues in the most popular corner of the Baker High School gym, where he made friends with so many basketball tournament players, coaches, and referees, helped the champions cut down their nets, and made sure nobody left town without remembering his friendly face. Or ask his loving wife, who remained his faithful companion throughout his life and became his caretaker in the final year or so, and his three sons, who are so proud to carry on his legacy. Finally, ask his 9 grandkids, who will forever remember him as the “Papa” who made them laugh and feel loved.
Rick wants to be remembered as a good man who gave back to his community, but he was so much more than that to so many people. He was Ricky to his mom, Phyllis, and his younger sister, Kim, and brother, Mark, who survive him, his father, Richard, who preceded him in death. He was Rick to his wife, Kathy, and his three boys, Nick, Chris, and Pat, and their wives, Julie, Megan, and Katee. And he was Papa to Akiya, Abby, Decklyn, Colby, Kaylee, Rhyan (dec.), Leona, Dash, and Arden. And most importantly, he was joy and happiness to everyone that was lucky enough to have met him. He will be remembered as a great man. In lieu of a service or flowers, his family asks for donations to be made in his honor to the Baker City Lions Club. through Gray's West & Co. Pioneer Chapel at 1500 Dewey Ave., Baker City, OR 97814.