Neal Francis Taylor, obituary

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 3:45pm

MONTVILLE — Neal Francis Taylor, 64, of Montville, Maine, died unexpectedly on Monday, December 26, 2022, at his residence.

Neal was born in the Bronx, New York on January 24, 1958, to Jeremy and Jean "Kay" Taylor. Neal's father was employed by the New York Central Railroad, and he spent his early years moving annually, living in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and New York. He traveled multiple times to Costa Rica to visit his mother’s family who had moved there in the early 1950s. He attended Calasanctius Preparatory School in Buffalo, New York, and got his B.S. at the University at Buffalo in Mathematics. Neal's first “real” job was for Lincoln Laboratory in Boston. He got his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California at Davis in 1993, where he met his life partner, Larkspur Morton.

After California, Neal lived in North Carolina before thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1997 and then moved to Maine, all with Larkspur. They lived in Waterville (Colby College), Old Town (University of Maine), and Montville, Maine.

In the early 2000s, Neal and Larkspur started an almost 20-year commitment to ecological teaching and leadership, serving as Field Faculty for the Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley University, and eventually becoming central to the revival of  "the bus," as the Expedition Education Institute. Neal and Larkspur settled down in Montville, Maine after getting married in the forest nearby in December of 2004. Neal thrived as Lead Instructor for 5 semesters with the Center for Ecological Living and Learning in Central America. Neal was dedicated to his last job as a Campus Manager at Ironwood Maine, a residential mental health treatment program and accredited school for teens. 

Neal loved being in nature and he loved birds, especially Corvids. Neal was an unstoppable lifelong ultimate frisbee player – people who played with him said he couldn’t be blocked, and getting a nod of approval from Neal was high praise. Neal was a voracious reader, interested in topics from science and ecology to zen, mindfulness, psychology, and education. He read the Harry Potter series aloud in English and to himself in Spanish, read news daily, and collected thousands of pdf's of articles and books. Neal loved music, had eclectic tastes, collected over 600 albums, and made great dance mixes. Raised Catholic, Neal leaned more toward Buddhism, meditating regularly (at times). Neal could speak for hours on subjects he was passionate about, but rarely uttered a thoughtless word, and frequently was quiet, so much so some thought he never spoke. 

Neal is survived by his wife and partner of 30 years, Larkspur Morton, and six siblings: Bill Taylor (Marcella Stasa) of Upton, Massachussets, Kent Taylor (Sara) of Raleigh, North Carolina, Andrew Taylor of Oxford, Ohio, Mary Taylor (Frank Weber) of Connorsville, Indiana, Gordon Taylor of Brookville, Indiana, and Jeremy Taylor (Lisa) of Brookville, Indiana; sister and brother-in-law Maija and Reid Jensen, and mother-in-law, Shirley Morton, Minnesota; and twelve beloved nieces and nephews and their children.

Neal was preceded in death by both of his parents, his father-in-law, and an infant brother, James Kevin Taylor.

He is also survived by cats Lexi and Mufasa and dog Honeybear and was predeceased by three cats, Matilda, Purvis, and Milo, and a beloved crow.

An in-person celebration of life on January 21, and a Zoom based one on the 28th.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at