Aviation and avians | TheUnion.com

Aviation and avians

Dan BurkhartNed Taylor (right) died in a car accident Saturday at the intersection of Rough and Ready Highway and Highway 20.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

If you ever bought a car locally, ate at a coffee shop downtown, or drove a golf cart through Lake Wildwood in the past 20 years, you knew Ned Taylor.

Friends and family paused Monday to remember Taylor, 65, of Lake Wildwood two days after he was killed in an accident at the intersection of Highway 20 and Rough and Ready Highway.

Taylor was on his way to the Nevada County Airport for a ride in a new aircraft piloted by his friend, Bob Hobert, when a vehicle driven by Elizabeth Hughes, 38, of Nevada City allegedly jumped the highway and crashed into Taylor’s pickup before landing upside-down in a ditch.

Taylor, driving the pickup that carried the paints, brushes and tools he uses in his upholstery-repair business, died instantly.

Hughes was in critical condition at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, a nursing supervisor said Monday. Sheriff’s deputies are considering filing charges against Hughes, who allegedly sped in and out of oncoming traffic and struck two other motorists Saturday.

Taylor was remembered Monday as a nature lover and an aviation and motorcycle enthusiast, someone who was days away from becoming a first-time grandfather.

His daughter, Lori, is expecting a girl Thursday.

“Ned knew every kind of bird, he knew almost individually the geese that would come to Lake Wildwood in the winter,” said Hobert, who was supposed to meet meet Taylor at the Nevada County Airport Saturday morning for a ride in his new experimental plane.

“He usually beat me there,” Hobert said. “He was going to be my first official passenger.”

“I think his fascination (with airplanes) stemmed from the fact he was so enamored with flight and with birds.”

The duo would often take Hobert’s 1957 Bonanza single-engine plane over the Sutter Buttes to Quincy. In 1990, Hobert took Taylor, a La Crosse, Wis., native, to the prestigious Oshkosh Fly-In.

That his friend didn’t arrive at the airport Saturday seemed strange.

“I was in shock, denial and total disbelief,” said Hobert after he heard the news.

Of Taylor’s career, which he started in the San Jose area in 1973, Hobert said, “He was an artist, one of the last in his trade.”

Taylor repaired upholstery on seats for Jim Keil Chevrolet and other car dealerships and at places like Paulette’s Country Kitchen.

Taylor’s wife of 40 years, Margie, and his son, Don, and daughter-in-law, Deb, were at the Taylor home when they heard the news. Margie Taylor had driven by the crash scene earlier Saturday on her way to Grass Valley.

“I saw the truck, and it didn’t have the camper shell on it, and I knew it wasn’t Ned,” she said. When the police arrived at her home later that evening, she knew.

“I knew it before the police said anything that it was Ned,” said Taylor.

She indulged in her husband’s love of flying by attending the first Reno Air Races in 1963, and in his avian passion – a handful of hummingbird feeders and birdhouses hang in the back yard.

Don Taylor remembers his father always walking the family dog, Griffy, along Lake Wildwood’s many paths.

“He got up early every morning, always out and about,” said Taylor, whose calls to his father twice a week have now been stopped.

“He’s a man who just loved his family dearly,” Margie Taylor said.

Funeral arrangements for Taylor are pending.

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