Zella Mae Taylor

August 17, 1930 ~ March 13, 2024 (age 93) 93 Years Old

Zella Taylor Obituary

Zella Mae Taylor was born in Richmond, California on August 17, 1930.

She spent much of her early years in Washington and Oregon. Her father, Sidney St Martin, was born in Washington on an Indian Reservation and her mother, Zella StMartin, was born in Union City, Oregon near Portland. She used to say that she was the boy her father never had. In fact, she had only one sister, 6 years younger than her, named Sydney.

As a family, they did a lot of outdoor camping for family vacations mostly because they did not have the money to go on fancy vacations. She always went fishing and hiking with her dad. She continued hiking and backpacking and was a girl scout leader all through her children’s elementary and junior high school years. She also helped the science teacher at her work take 9th graders on a backpacking trip for 10 days in the Sierras.

Zella’s dad had a lot of different jobs during her early years. The early period she has shared most about over the years was when she was living at the family St Martin Mineral Springs in Washington which was located right next door to the Yakima Indian Reservation, where her dad grew up.

Those were also the days when her family moved where their dad could find a job. He did commercial fishing for salmon on the Columbia River, he worked on the Columbia Dam, and he worked for the railroad. She said her dad never quite settled down until they moved back to Richmond where he found a job as an operating engineer, which he did until he retired.

Zella and her husband, Al Taylor, met at Richmond High School. She says she doesn’t remember when she first noticed him, but she thought he was going "steady" with one of the girls in her sorority, which was a high school club in her day. She tells the story about how she dared to ask him to a Sadie Hawkins dance, and he said yes to her great surprise. It seems it was the classic star football player and cheerleader romance.

After graduation from Richmond High, she and Al went to UC Berkeley. However, after the first semester Zella said she felt lost in that big school. The classes were huge because the war had ended and all the Gl's were returning. She talked her parents into letting her go to the College of Marin that was much smaller and she liked it much better. There she became interested in science so decided to go into nurse's training. Several of her high school classmates were going to Kaiser School of Nursing, so she joined them there. The nursing program was a 3-year program. Marriage was not allowed while in training at that time, so she was making a big commitment to start that program where they expected a lot of dedication to the program.

After graduation from Nursing School Zella and Al were finally married in February of 1952 after going together for 6 years, from 1946 to 1952. She worked awhile at Kaiser in surgery until Al finished his master’s degree and joined the US Army. Her son, Rick, was born in 1954 while they were stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia. After their Army days, Zella was a stay-at-home mom for a while, going back to college while Al worked at the YMCA. Her daughter, Cathy, was born in 1955, but shortly after Zella was hospitalized for ulcerative colitis, and she almost didn’t survive. She tells the story of how they let her go home from the hospital to say goodbye to her family because there was nothing more they could do, and then she was supposed to go back. Her dad had other plans-- he made some oyster soup that she said cured her. She never went back to the hospital. Although she struggled with colitis throughout her life, Heavenly Father had bigger plans for her, and she has proven that in her 93 years. She says Al was meant for big things- and he got a job in Oakland in 1962 as an assistant to the City Manager and they moved to Oakland.

They bought a home there that needed some extensive work and that’s when Zella’s many talents surfaced in terms of doing a ton of construction and repair work around the house. Stories have been told about how Zella basically rewired the whole two-story house among a bunch of other repairs.

At that time, they also needed more money to fix up the house, so Zella went back to work. Her kids were in elementary school by then and she worked as a Nurses' Aide Trainer. She also went back to school and got a job back at Kaiser. She worked a lot in maternity and delivery and in the nursery, and sometimes in the emergency room. She shared a lot about tiny 2-pound babies they were trying to save in the nursery. She worked the graveyard shift so she could get home in time to get her kids off to school, while also taking classes at UC San Francisco several days a week and still getting back home before her kids got home from school. She ended up with a BS in Nursing and a Public Health Nursing Credential. To match up better with her kids’ school schedule, and probably to finally get some sleep, she used her Public Health Nursing Credential to begin School Nursing and got a job in in San Leandro. She did that for about 10 years until she said that they ‘decided having nurses in schools was too expensive’ and they were going to eliminate the nurses. The principal at Bancroft Junior High School suggested she go back to school again to get her master’s degree in counseling because he was going to have a school counselor's job open. Later, after she had been a counselor for some years, she said she wanted to get higher up on the pay scale before she retired, so she took the School Administrator’s test and passed. She got the vice principal’s job in the school where she was the counselor, and she stayed there until Al retired and they decided she should retire too.

They had bought property at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe years before, and they finally got their dream home built there in Lake Tahoe after they retired. During that time, Al wanted to travel, so once they had both retired and were building their home in the mountains, they spent most weekends watching over the construction, except when they were traveling and seeing the world.

They lived in Tahoe for 10 years. There were many happy memories at Tahoe with kids and grandkids. They had a lot of fun and were very involved in the Tahoe lifestyle. They spent the winters skiing and going on cruises and traveling to get away from the cold-- and the summers camping with family and working on the lake with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or boating with their friends at the Rotary Yacht Club.

It was a great life for them, and a dream come true, but the strenuous winters were hard on Al. By then his diabetes was causing him trouble and the doctor said he needed to head down the mountain. That was one of Zella’s greatest sacrifices, leaving the home she had spent so much time planning for, and designing, and that she loved so much.

They had some friends that had already moved to Sun City Lincoln and even though Zella greatly missed Lake Tahoe and their beautiful home in the mountains, they were happy in Lincoln, and they found many friends.

And as she wrote in her own words: “And even more important, it is when we truly got active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints again. We were active in Oakland while the kids were growing up and our ward was on the Oakland temple site. Our kids were active in the youth activities. In fact, during their years in high school Al and I were both leaders of the youth programs in our ward and both kids were involved in the temple pageants. It was a very busy time for us. After the kids moved out, with Cathy, our daughter, at BYU and our son, Rick, starting his own auto repair business, our lives shifted too.” She wrote that luckily, when they moved to Sun City Lincoln, they got back to going to church regularly. While attending, they were fellowshipped by fantastic people, and they became more involved. When Al passed away in 2011, her involvement in church was extremely important to her. She served at the Sacramento temple and was involved at church in several callings including helping with Food Storage, serving in Relief Society, and for years in Primary-- including Activity Day girls and a group of children she enjoyed in primary classes from when they were 8 years old till they turned 12. She didn’t just teach primary, there had to have lots of crafts and activities. She loved those kids and all the people who loved and supported her in the Lincoln wards.

Zella could do anything really. She was talented in so many ways. She could fix anything anywhere that needed fixing. She was a very talented artist and crafter.  She could arrange flowers, sew, embroider, knit, crochet, paint, and create pottery. She loved her gardens and yards and was extremely meticulous in keeping them looking as perfect as possible. She helped everyone with all kinds of projects and made costumes and California missions and pottery depicting ancient times- all to help others, but also because she loved the projects.

She loved sports and sporting events and was an avid fan of her grandkids and great grandkids. Till the end she was watching sports on TV and invested in the players and outcomes. As an example of who Zella was, years ago, when she lived in Oakland, she couldn’t just attend an Oakland A’s baseball game with the family, she had to keep official score in the scorebook, including every ball and strike, because the game didn’t move fast enough for her, and she needed more to do. If you had any kind of project, she had the skill to make it happen. She was extremely organized also. To this day on her computer, extensive lists pop up daily of all the cleaning and organizing that was scheduled for that day and week. She’s the only person that could get every piece of camping equipment back into the box it came in, exactly as if it was coming out for the very first time. Her later years were hard for her in that she couldn’t keep everything up the way she liked. Working hard and doing everything to the very highest degree possible was important to her… and well exemplified by her. She’d always much rather be planning and doing something great than just talking about it-- or worse… just sitting around without a plan. She expected a lot of everyone around her… and her grandkids have always said… ‘don’t mess with grandma’, because she did mean business, at least she pretended to, but she had a very soft spot in her heart for all! She was highly driven and motivated to be productive in every way. She was truly a great example as a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, sister, teacher, and friend.

The world really won’t be quite the same without her.   

There is a sentiment expressed: without such a painful parting at passing-- we wouldn’t truly experience such a joyful reunion when we are together again someday.  I know she’ll be anxious for that great reunion with all of you too, but for now, our memories will keep her life alive to continue to inspire us. We can all be inspired to do more… and do better… when we think of Zella. Thanks for all you have meant to her and all you have done to make her life wonderful. She would want to thank everyone for being a part of her life. I know she’d want to share that from an eternal perspective, all of us who tarry here on earth really have only a precious short time remaining “to prepare to meet God.” But today we do have a little more time to work hard, bless others---time to be kinder, more compassionate, quicker to thank and more generous in sharing, more gracious in caring and more time to show love through action. Her life exemplified it.

Friends and family are invited to attend a Zella's memorial service on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 at 10am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1155 Liberty Ln, Lincoln, CA 95648).  Interment at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, Dixon, CA.  Price Funeral Chapel (916-725-2109), directors.

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Funeral Service
April 2, 2024

10:00 AM
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lincoln Stake Center
1155 Liberty Lane
Lincoln, CA 95648

Interment following funeral service
April 2, 2024

Sacramento Valley National Cemetery
5810 Midway Road
Dixon, CA 95620


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