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News > Deaths & Obituaries > TAYLOR, John Robson

TAYLOR, John Robson

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories, and celebrate the life of John Robson Taylor who we sadly lost in 2020

TAYLOR, John Robson

Died 20 June 2020 in Sydney, Australia

Obituary written by his children Justin, Simon, Philippa and Michael.

John was born on the 10th February 1929 in Zomba, the 4th largest city of Nyasaland (now known as Malawi having gained independence from the UK in 1964) and was the only child of Leslie and Nancy. Shortly after his birth the family left Zomba, travelling up the Zambezi River, for a life back in the UK, which coincided with the start of the Great Depression.

Back in the UK, the family settled in Sevenoaks, Kent, and John attended Tonbridge School from 1942 to 1947 embracing all that Tonbridge could offer with keen involvement both academically but also in pursing rugby and his life-long passion of cricket.

Graduating from Tonbridge School at the end of World War 2 and disappointed at having missed the opportunity to serve his country he immediately joined the army where he served for nearly 4 years, until, whilst being driven across the Salisbury Plain to attend to an accident involving a bus, his Land Rover rolled breaking both his legs. John left the army in 1950 and commenced a Civil Engineering degree at Kings College, London graduating in 1953.

These early years of John’s life placed him in environments and gave him experiences which had an undeniable influence on the person we came to love. 

John was a man who went forward in life with a fierce sense of purpose, never wanting to waste a day; he possessed an empathy and sense of fairness for others always seeking out the more interesting; a yearning for adventure, traveling the road less travelled; and always questioning what we could have often taken for granted. 

With John now working as a Chartered Civil Engineer he spent his free time developing his love for sailing. Racing Fireflys and OK dinghies and taking weekend trips up and down the French coast.

In 1958 the chance meeting of Brenda Vokins at Chequers Pub in Sevenoaks really paved the way.

In December of 1958 Brenda and John were married and John whisked her off to Nassau in the Bahamas where he’d secured a 2 year posting.

Returning from the Bahamas in 1961, John accepted a 2-year posting in Sydney, arriving in December of 1962. The 2-year posting turned into a rest of life commitment as John and Brenda quickly circled themselves with friends from school, sailing, the golf club, the SCG and work. 

Life in Australia was purpose built for Johns adventurous lifestyle. As an engineer in the 60’s and 70’s he travelled across the largely unchartered Pacific, well ahead of the tourist onslaught, and during the 80’s worked on projects extending into the United Arab Emirates managing the design and delivery of a strategically placed harbour at the entrance of the Straits of Hormuz.

In 1986 at the age of 57 John retired from his work as a Civil Engineer and commenced an odyssey of travel, photography, art and gardening which kept him busy for the next 35 years.

John placed great value in tradition and history, he was often mistaken as being conservative, on the contrary he was a progressive thinker, and he often took pleasure in disarming others with his dry wit and forthright views. 

Above all John cherished the ever growing family he had created from his humble beginnings in Nyasaland. John is survived by his wife Brenda, his children Michael, Philippa, Simon and Justin and his 12 grandchildren.

(HS 42-47)

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