Dean Elting Taylor, age 96, passed away on September 29, 2020, at Fairhaven Senior Services in Whitewater


April 24, 1924 – September 29, 2020

Dean Elting Taylor, age 96, passed away on September 29, 2020, at Fairhaven Senior Services in Whitewater. He was born April 24, 1924, in Whitewater, Wisconsin, the second of two children of Lloyd and Elsie (Uglow) Taylor. He lived in LaGrange, WI, and graduated from Whitewater High School (City High), class of 1941. Dean attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI, majoring in agricultural engineering, but after completing three semesters, he was obligated to return home to run the family farm due to an extended illness suffered by his father. On June 28, 1947, Dean married Shirley Bromley, and they spent nearly 69 wonderful years together until her death in early 2016. Other than when they were away at college, Dean and Shirley lived almost their entire lives in LaGrange, with Dean moving to Fairhaven only in late 2019. Dean and Shirley farmed until their retirement in 1986. After retiring, they wintered in Apache Junction, AZ, where they made many enduring friendships.

Dean was an exacting and successful farmer. He built one of the top ten herds in Wisconsin based on production per cow, and in 1964 he received the national Ford Farm Efficiency award in the area of farm management. Dean was very active in working with American Breeders Service (ABS) in DeForest, Wisconsin, to improve the genetic quality of his Holstein herd, and through the years, ABS often brought busloads of farmers from across the United States and from overseas to learn about his dairying operation. Dean was especially proud when a bull calf from his herd was purchased by ABS and was eventually recognized as a Gold Medal Sire.

Dean loved music. While in college, he played sousaphone in the University of Wisconsin marching band. In the early 1950’s Dean and three other farmers from LaGrange who all sang with the Janesville Barbershop Chorus formed a quartet appropriately named The Agriculturists. They won the Land-O-Lakes District quartet competition in 1952 (wearing striped bib overalls and straw hats!) and advanced to international competition several times. Dean was also a lifelong member of the LaGrange United Methodist Church and sang in the choir there for more years than anyone can remember.

After selling his cows and becoming solely a crop farmer in 1974, Dean added two new “careers.” He joined the Lauderdale-LaGrange Fire Department where he became a firefighter/EMT and served for over twenty years, and he took up woodworking. Between 1974 and the time he built his last piece in July of 2019, Dean built hundreds of items for family and friends – clocks, tables, hutches, cabinets and much more. Each piece showed the same attention to detail that had characterized his farming. And, true to his character, no matter how intricate or large the project, while he would likely agree to build it for you, and he might allow you to purchase the materials, he would never take a dime for the work. His woodworking projects, like his life, were truly a labor of love.

Dean is survived by his son, Chuck (Barb) of LaGrange; his granddaughter, Carrie (Jeff) James, and their children Landon and Kailyn, of Olympia, WA; and his grandson, Mike (Carlye), of Odenton, MD. He is further survived by his sister-in-law, Martha Dawson, of Indianapolis, IN, as well as numerous nieces and nephews and many, many friends. In addition, he is survived by several very special host family students whom he considered to be his children: Joe and Eva Fok of Minneapolis, MN; Lai-Ming and Chi-Sing Man of Lexington, KY; Yee-Lih (deceased) and Tsung-Ping Chen of South Salem, NY. He was predeceased by his wife Shirley; Connie, a daughter who died in infancy; his parents; his sister, Joyce Dougherty and husband Jim; his in-laws, Frederick G. and Ruth Bromley; his brother-in-law, Frederick W. Bromley and wife Barbara; his sister-in-law, Beth Bromley; his sister-in-law Phyllis Dunham and husband Wally; his brother-in-law, Jim Dawson; and Francisco Larach (a foreign exchange student who lived with the family for a year) and wife Coca.

Dean worked long and hard, yet always found time to help others when they needed it. He shared his time, energy, talents and resources with many – those who asked and those who would never have asked, those he knew and those he would never have an opportunity to know. Dean was not gregarious, but quietly made, and kept, friends everyplace he went. Always a farmer at heart, he chose to grow wherever he was planted.

A private, family burial service was held on Friday, October 2nd, at Round Prairie Cemetery in LaGrange with the Rev. Dr. Don Norman officiating. In accordance with Dean’s instructions, a memorial service will be held at a later date when folks can “visit afterward and be fed!” If desired, memorials may be made to the LaGrange United Methodist Church, Bethel House (Whitewater), or The Time is Now (Lake Geneva).

Many heartfelt thanks to the staff at Fairhaven who so lovingly cared for Dean during his time there and to those from St. Croix Hospice who made his final weeks so much easier.

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