1922 – 2013

SOUTH PARIS — James William Taylor Jr., 91, died Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Maine Veterans Home.

He was born Jan. 21, 1922 in Milford, Del., the son of James William and Thelma Lucille (Norris) Taylor.

As a family, they moved often, but the D.C. area was home. and living within walking distance of the Capitol, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Institute and other national treasures gave him a heightened interest in U.S. history. Later they moved to Chevy Chase, Md., and he had a paper route while a junior in Bethesda/Chevy Chase High School.

After graduation in 1939, he began working for contractors for building construction companies. At the same time, he joined the Chevy Chase Fire Department and served as engineer on a 1932 Seagrave pumper. To say he loved that job would be an understatement.

Because of the strife between Germany and England and then the invasion of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, on Aug. 13, 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps stationed in San Antonio, Coleman, and Sherman, Texas, where he washed out as a pilot. He loved to fly and failing to become a pilot was the greatest disappointment of his life.


So he chose to go on to armament school at Buckley Field, Colo. Classes in machine guns, aircraft cannons, bombs and gun turrets, plus physics and chemistry were necessary to understand all the workings of aircraft weapons. After graduating he went to gunnery school at Buckingham Army Air Field, Fort Myers, Fla., and got his corporal stripes and was then assigned to Barksdale Field, Shreveport, La., for crew training as a tail gunner on a B-26 in the 9th Army Air Corps.

He shipped out Oct. 26, 1944 for Stone, England and was assigned to the 387thBombardment Group of the 556th Bombardment Squadron and then on to Clastres, France, Beek, Holland, and Meharicourt, France, with flying missions all over German airspace. Then came May 8, 1945, and VE Day. With the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14, he knew he would be going home soon and was discharged on Sept. 10, 1945, as a staff sergeant.

On July 27, 1944, he married the love of his life, Lena Elizabeth “Lee” Raynor. His love for machines started early in life. He repaired and rebuilt mimeograph, spirit printers and offset printing equipment, worked as a machinist at Crescent Pump in Rockland, Mass., Sanborn Machine, South Waterford, and Maine Machine Products in South Paris. With continuing education courses and experience, he became a certified manufacturing engineer on May 31, 1978, at USM Gorham.

He was a member and past chairman of Portland Chapter 46, Society of Manufacturing Engineers; commander, Post 9787, VFW; past commander, Post 72, American Legion; and a member of other veteran organizations, also Masons, and First Congregational Church, South Paris.

He is survived by his daughters, Patricia Knotts and her husband, Stanley, of Laytonsville, Md., Mary Fox and her husband, Albert, of Stoneham, and Janet Schmidt and her husband, Keith, of Soldotna, Alaska; his son, James W. Taylor III and his wife, Jan, of Caldwell, Idaho; his sister, Thelma Bedient of Norway; seven grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Sadly, he lost his wife of 62 years on Jan. 12, 2007.

Online condolences may be shared with his family at www.oxfordhillsfuneralservices.com.

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