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Obituary: Keith E. Taylor

Published March 2014

Keith E. Taylor September 27, 1960 March 12, 2014

Westbrook – Keith Elwin Taylor, 53, of Westbrook, passed away with his family by his side in the early evening on Wednesday, March 12, at Mercy Hospital in Portland after a courageous seven year battle with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  

Born September 27, 1960, in Saco, Maine, the son of the late Eugene Elwood Taylor and the late Olga Louise Wright. Keith attended elementary school in Saco, then attended Massabesic High School and graduated in 1978.  He was a strong, impressive athlete. “Fearless” was Keith’s middle name, as he loved dirt-biking, skiing, water swings and diving off bridges!  During high school, he played center on the basketball team, where he still holds the record as the team’s MVP three years in a row.  Keith’s real love was football, much to the chagrin of his basketball coach; he played wide receiver and received the Coach’s Award his senior year.    

It was during high school at the age of 15 that Keith first saw Beth, sadly at his mother’s funeral. Despite the circumstances, Keith later told Beth that he knew the moment he laid eyes on her that she was the one he was going to marry.  Keith proposed to Beth on the beach in Pensacola after their first year of college, winning her heart forever.  They were married on August 17, 1979, at the Alfred Parish Church.  The newlyweds relocated to Pensacola where Keith continued attending Pensacola Christian and the University of West Florida.  Keith majored in physical education and he played for the Pensacola Christian basketball team.  

After moving back to Maine to start their family, Keith began working as a rigger moving heavy machinery for Bernard A. Roes and Sons.  Keith enjoyed the physical labor and mental challenges of rigging.  Bernard has said of Keith many times that he had never before seen such a hard worker or a man with so much physical strength.  In the late 1990’s, Keith went to work at Stultz Electric of Westbrook, where he worked on electric motors and generators at some of the largest facilities in the southern Maine.  Jim Fox, Keith’s “brother”, began an environmental emergency response company, Boom Technology, Inc., in 2003; Keith joined the Boom Tech team in 2005.  Keith especially loved being on the water and working with Jim—Keith always said, “There’s nothing like the view from my office window!”

Besides his family, Keith’s great loves were sports and singing. Keith and Beth were still in high school when they sang their first duet at the same church in which they met. They would go on to sing together at countless weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, and other events over the years. While singing with their family’s southern gospel group, “The Roes Family”, from 1985-89, they cut three albums in Nashville that included several original songs by Keith.  Beth and Keith recorded one more album in Nashville with Beth’s brother, Brett Roes, in 1995. Both Keith and Beth were members of the worship team at Windham Assembly of God and participated in many choral productions.  

Athletics ran in the family.  Keith coached his daughters, Jessica and Jaclyn, in both pee-wee basketball and as the head coach of the Windham Christian Academy basketball team. Keith also coached their son, Jackson, in pee-wee football. Jackson, now a senior at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, attended Windham High School and became the starting quarterback as a sophomore, shortly after Keith was diagnosed with ALS in 2007.  Despite his illness, Keith was Jackson’s No. 1 fan over the next three years, not missing a snap as the team steadily improved.  Windham won the Maine Class A football championship Jackson’s senior year, and Keith proudly attended the 2010 Lobster Bowl all-star game where Jackson won the John R. Schmidlin Award for best player in Maine Class A football.  Following in her father’s footsteps, Jaclyn now coaches the Windham Christian Academy girls basketball team where she aptly represents her father’s “spirited” coaching style.  

For Keith, who invested so much of his life in athletics, demanding physical work, and singing, the cost of ALS was high. Belle, as Keith lovingly called Beth throughout their marriage, says that as difficult as their lives became with Keith’s illness, their faith in God, each other, and in their family and friends ultimately pulled them through. Keith was passionate about his family, who were the loves of his life.  Family provider and protector were roles in which Keith excelled and for which he will always be remembered.  Keith was aptly characterized by Jackson’s 4th grade essay in which he described his father in this way: “It’s like we’re the President and he’s the bodyguard.”    

Keith is survived by his wife, Beth Ellen Roes Taylor, his children Jaclyn Leigh, Jackson Ryan, Jessica Lynn Taylor Nickerson and son-in-law, Corey Michael Nickerson; grandchildren, Lillian Beth and Leila Kathryn Nickerson; sister and brother-in-law, Nancy Taylor Wilcox and James Wilcox III, and their children Julia Wilcox Carbone and James Wilcox IV and their families; brother, Mark Taylor, and his children Christopher Taylor and Irish Taylor Nason and their families; father-in-law, Bernard Roes; brother-in-law and his wife, Brett and Becky Roes, and their children, Mary Roes Huggins and her family, Brett Jr, Carson, Sarah, and Christian Roes; “step-mother” Sharon (Nanny) Dunnells Brown and husband, Fredrick Brown; and “brother” and wife, James and Paula Fox, and their daughter, Jaclyn Kate.  Keith was predeceased by his brother, Glenn Taylor, his mother, Olga, his father, Eugene, and his mother-in-law, Beverly Roes Mitchell, who loved him as a second son.  Keith loved his family and many friends; he will be sadly missed by all. 

Visiting hours will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 21, and the funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 22.  Both will be held at Life Church, 8 Elkins Rd, Gorham, Maine.   

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to: Compassionate Care ALS P.O.Box 1052  West Falmouth, MA 02574