John Franklin Taylor lived a life of Christ-like discipleship and leaves a legacy of love and service to his fellow man. He humbly and meekly inspired hundreds of individuals to overcome adversity, to seek a new beginning, and to look for the joys in daily life.
Born in Pinedale, Arizona April 4, 1930 during the height of the Great Depression, John was the second of seven children to Maurice and Rosabel Taylor. The family lived wherever Maurice could find employment, but Heber was “home” to John and where he worked as a youth at the local sawmill.
A pretty girl named Evelyn Flake sat in front of him in English class at Snowflake High School. John would teasingly tug on her hair. Little did he know that she would become the most influential person in his life and his eternal sweetheart.
John served a church mission in the southeastern U.S., then joined the Air Force and became an air traffic controller. More than once he was credited with saving the lives of crew members whose planes had iced over as he guided them in for a safe landing.
During a brief furlough, and after three years of separation, John visited Evelyn on Christmas Day 1952 and convinced her to marry him two days later in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They were stationed in Mississippi in the summers and Montana in the winters. Following his military service, John attended Arizona State University (the first in his family to ever attend college) and then graduated from law school at the University of Arizona.
They returned to Snowflake, where John set up a private law practice. The only problem was that Evelyn was related to half the town and John was doing mostly pro-bono work. That problem was solved when John ran for election as Navajo County Attorney and won. He was an advocate for the rule of law and had great respect for the judicial system. But he was also a man who believed in second chances. As a Superior Court Judge, John was renowned for dispensing wisdom and fairness from the bench. After passing sentence on a convicted criminal, he would often address that individual and encourage him/her to seek a better life. His understanding of the need for both justice and mercy deepened John’s testimony of the Savior’s atonement—which provides each of us a second chance at eternal life.
Soon after moving back to Snowflake, John and Evelyn began building a home, orchard and gardens that would be their “garden of Eden” for over 50 years. They were blessed with five children: Lynn (Phil Johnson), Steven (Kelly), Jonae (Doc Wise), Nathan (J Whitmer), and Lynae (Tom Erb). Leticia and Christina Garcia from Mexico City also lived in their home during their high school years. John’s 10 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren consider “Grandpa Taylor” to be a life mentor and friend.
John was called at a young age to serve as Bishop in his church, and at age 35 as a young Stake President. When asked to serve as President of the Vancouver Canada Mission, he didn’t hesitate to make the needed sacrifices—resigning as a judge and uprooting his family for the three-year commitment. John and Evelyn loved their missionaries and were thrilled to see their personal growth in the gospel. In turn, their 300+ missionaries felt inspired and individually loved by President and Sister
Taylor. He would often quip, however, that his favorite church assignment was scoutmaster, which he did three different times during his life.
Following their Vancouver mission, John worked as a public defender until he was re-appointed by the Governor to the Navajo Superior Court. He later was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals, which required them to spend weekdays in Phoenix and weekends in Snowflake. Following John’s retirement, they served a family history mission at the Laie Hawaii Temple and he also served as a Patriarch in the Snowflake Stake. Many of those recorded blessings have given guidance and hope to fellow church members.
John and Evelyn cultivated life-long friendships and did many activities with other couples. They loved to travel to other continents and explore peoples and customs. Both were also active in the community and served on numerous boards and charitable organizations.
John was tender to his wife, “Eve”, and a classic gentleman. Friends would complain that he “made them look bad” because he always took the added effort to open the car door for his wife. That tenderness was very evident in the months prior to Evelyn’s passing as he lovingly cared for her needs. Losing his companion was his greatest challenge, but he would say to his posterity “How can I not be grateful for the many years we had together.” As his eyesight failed and his body declined, that same positivity inspired others who faced physical or emotional challenges. During the final week of his life, many of those to whom John ministered or mentored came to say their goodbyes. They may have intended to comfort him, but left uplifted by his courage and hope in the midst of great suffering. John passed away in his home, surrounded by his daughters, on October 12, 2022.
The family wishes to express gratitude to the many friends, family and care-givers who have lovingly served John since Evelyn’s passing. We know that the heavens have witnessed a sweet reunion—and we know that our Savior has welcomed his faithful disciple home.
Public viewings will be held on Friday, October 21, 2202, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 to 10:40 a.m. at the Pioneer Park Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located at 421 North Main Street in Snowflake, Arizona. The funeral service will begin 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 22, 2022, at the same location. The concluding graveside service will immediately follow at the Snowflake Cemetery located at 390 South 4th Street West in Snowflake.
For those unable to attend in person, a live broadcast will be available at JohnTaylorFuneral.com
Donations in John’s memory may be made to the Snowflake Heritage Foundation, PO Box 92, Snowflake, Arizona, 85937, you may also Venmo using @snowflakeheritagefoundation under the business tab.
To plant Memorial Trees in memory of John Franklin Taylor, please click here to visit our Sympathy Store.