Retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Herbert “Herb” Taylor, 94, of Salida died April 16, 2018, at his home with friends and caregivers at his side.
He was born Jan. 8, 1924, to Hazel and H.R. Taylor Sr. in Clarksburg, W. Va.
His family said flying was his life. He learned to fly at age 14 in West Virginia, where his father was a pilot.
After graduating from high school in Clarksburg in 1940, he enrolled at West Virginia University for a degree in meteorology.
When World War II started, he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program at age 18 and was called into active duty and earned his pilot’s wings and commission at age 19.
He finished his combat tour at age 21 and earned membership in the elite Lucky Bastards Club on Feb. 3, 1945, after completing 35 bombing missions in Germany during the war.
During the Battle of the Bulge mission he was seated beside Jimmy Stewart, who was the command pilot on that mission. Stewart went on to become an actor after the war.
After the war Capt. Taylor frequently was called upon to fly generals and other high-ranking officials to various locations, flying a DC-3.
Several of the planes he flew are on display in the Smithsonian Institution.
He was also a member of the Lost Angels Flying Club.
When he retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1954, he was hired by North Central Airlines at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Mich., flying between the hub in Green Bay, Wis., and Midway Airport in Chicago.
In 1955 he was hired by American Airlines and remained with the company until 1984, when he retired as a commercial pilot. During his career with American Airlines he was based in Fort Worth, Texas, flying a Boeing 707 and could have gone on to fly the 747, but that would have required a move to Los Angeles and he chose not to move his family.
He married his wife, Barbara Joan “Babs,” in 1945. They were married 73 years at the time of his death.
When his commercial flying ended, he and his wife continued to enjoy flying and riding motorcycles. Between flying and motorcycling, they traveled all around the world, He also enjoyed sailboats and won countless regattas
When he retired from flying at age 84, he had more than 70 years of flying experience.
During the mid-1960s into the late 1970s he enjoyed building model airplanes and furniture, and he was known to family and friends as a great storyteller.
The Taylors have lived in Salida since 1984.
Survivors include his wife; son, Jeff (Karen) Taylor; daughter, Melinda Beth Hodges; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a soon-to-be-born great-grandson.
At his request there will be no memorial service.
Cremation was by Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home in Salida.
Online condolences may be offered at lewisandglenn.com.