Family and friends of Brent Taylor remembered the late Utah National Guard major on Saturday as a selfless and skilled peacemaker who had a knack for resolving differences between people.
Thousands of mourners gathered at the Dee Events Center in Ogden for the funeral services of the 39-year-old former mayor of North Ogden. Taylor was killed in action while training Afghan Army soldiers at a training facility in Kabul on Nov. 3.
Stephen Taylor, Brent Taylor’s father and a bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, oversaw the service filled with song and remembrances as Taylor’s flag-draped casket stood before the stage.
Choking back tears, Capt. Derek Taylor recalled that his brother was the “peacemaker” in their large family, often diffusing fights between siblings.
“He was able to see and understand different points of view, and had a knack for finding connection and common ground,” DerekTaylor said of his brother. “With Brent, it wasn’t about who was right or wrong, it was about being respectful.”
Derek Taylor said commitment, confidence and compassion were the “driving force for everything he [Brent Taylor] did.”
Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, head of the Utah National Guard, said Brent Taylor was a great soldier and patriot who excelled in the political arena.
“He was completely committed to going and doing this job,” he said of Taylor’s final deployment. “He truly loved the Afghan people and wanted to help them.”
Recalling Taylor’s final Facebook post, he said the late mayor was “joyful about the Afghan elections” and in awe of the turnout despite the threats of violence. He encouraged Americans to exercise their right to vote, regardless of which party won.
“I thought that was so profound,” said Burton.
Toby Mileski, a family friend, said Taylor’s wife, Jenny, and seven children, should remember their father as a “warrior, patriot and a super person.”
Among those in attendance were faith leaders, military members and many elected officials, including Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Mike Lee and Senator-Elect Mitt Romney.
Saturday’s services were preceded by a public viewing on Friday evening and a 12-hour military vigil at Myers Mortuary in which a Utah National Guard member stood over Taylor’s casket.
Taylor’s remains will be interred at the Ben Lamond Cemetery in North Ogden.