American Veteran 09

Gaylen D. Taylor

March 2, 1933 ~ August 2, 2019 (age 86)


Gaylen D. Taylor, Capt. USN (Ret.) passed away on August 2, 2019 in Lincoln, NE after a brief illness. Gaylen was born in Clearwater, NE on March 2, 1933 to Harland and Verna (Cook) Taylor. He graduated from Hastings High School in 1951. Gaylen attended Hastings College from 1951-1955, graduating with a degree in mathematics and secondary education. While at Hastings College he was a member of Kappa Tau Phi fraternity, touring band and choir, and lettered in both track and football. He played center and linebacker and was co-captain of the 1954 Bronco football team which completed an undefeated season. The team was inducted into the Hastings College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.

Gaylen married his high school sweetheart Shirley Rae Wiederspan on November 20, 1954. Following their graduation from Hastings College in 1955 he and Shirley taught in Superior, NE for one year. Subsequently, he received a commission in the U.S. Navy after attending Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI in the fall of 1956. He then served as a Navy cryptologic warfare officer for 27 years. Gaylen earned a bachelor’s degree in electronic engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA in 1969. His commands included U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Guam from 1972 to 1973 and U.S. Naval Security Group Activity Skaggs Island, CA from 1976 to 1978. He retired from active service in 1983.

Gaylen and Shirley returned to Nebraska following his retirement. They were active supporters of Opera Omaha, the Omaha Symphony, and the Tuesday Musical Concert Series. Gaylen was employed by Harris Corporation, Bellevue, NE, where he worked until his final retirement in 1998.

Over the years, Gaylen and Shirley remained strong alumni supporters of Hastings College and endowed two scholarships in the fields of physics and biology. In 2005, Gaylen was awarded the Hastings College Outstanding Alumni Award.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his infant brother Dickie; and Shirley, his wife of 49 years. 

He is survived by his daughters Betsy (Keith) Sheets of Lincoln, NE and Jennifer Taylor of Bellevue, NE; his grandchildren Megan (Corey) Peterson, Justin (Melissa) Sheets, Amanda (James) Carr, and Alexandra (Jason) Susnjar; his great-grandchildren Adam Drayton, Wendel Drayton, Maxwell Sheets, Madeleine Sheets, Ashlyn Carr and Jonathan Carr; his brother-in-law Stan Wiederspan of Cedar Rapids, IA; and his companion Jean Stewart of Omaha, NE.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, August 9, 10:30am at Roper & Sons South Lincoln Chapel, 3950 Hohensee Drive (40th & Yankee Hill) Lincoln, NE.

Memorials may be given to the Hastings College Foundation, the Eastmont Towers Foundation or donor’s choice.    

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