Local law enforcement turned out in force for a memorial service on Saturday for Don Taylor, retired Tillamook County Sheriff’s Deputy and Search and Rescue coordinator. The Tillamook High School auditorium was filled with law enforcement personnel from the Sheriff’s Office, Tillamook PD, Oregon State Police, and the BLM. There were firefighters and a huge contingent of Search and Rescue members who came to pay their respects and say good-bye to their friend, and in some cases, mentor.
Detective Paul Fournier said that it was Don who was responsible for Fournier’s decision to go into law enforcement. “I was a long haired volunteer firefighter when I met Don. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But Don saw something in me, he had that gift, and he encouraged me. He taught me a lot…sometimes I ask myself, ‘What would Don do?’
Fournier created a video tribute to Don’s life, including photographs, a narrative of Don’s accomplishments and his loves, and Don’s favorite music. There was not a dry eye in the auditorium when the lights came up.
Don also mentored Deputy Dean Burdick. Burdick is the current Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator. He met Don in 2000 when Don was SAR leader. “Don was my friend. He had a great attitude and he was very knowledgeable. He was known as an innovator statewide in SAR, he loved his family, his community and his country.
“One of the most important things he taught me was that if you want to do a good job in law enforcement, you need to be a part of the community which you protect.”
Sheriff Andy Long talked about Don as a man who was “always fun to work with, he had a positive attitude that was contagious. It was always my goal to get him laughing.” The Sheriff described Don as “humble, an educator, he didn’t like to write tickets because he was too kind. He would take the time to explain to people why he’d stopped them, and try to teach them to be safe.”
By all accounts, Don was unparalleled in his SAR work. Long said, “Don was a SAR guru. If he had been born a dog he’d have been a bloodhound. You just couldn’t get him off the trail when someone was missing.”
“Don Taylor was hero and a true American”
The memorial concluded with Sheriff Long presenting an American flag to Don’s wife, Marlene, as a piper from the Keizer PD played Amazing Grace and all of Don’s colleagues stood at attention to honor him.