Landscapes 13

LTC, Robert Vance Taylor

October 30, 1928 ~ January 24, 2021 (age 92)


Robert Vance Taylor, Lt. Col., (Ret)., United States Army
October 30, 1928 - January 24, 2021

A resident of Sierra Vista for 50 years, Robert Taylor passed away while hospitalized with Covid-19 in Tucson. An Arizona native, born in Florence, raised in Coolidge and Globe, he graduated from Coolidge High School in 1946. He was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at the University of Arizona. He married Ruth Elaine Johnson on December 28, 1950. She was raised in Yuma and was a career elementary school teacher. Together they successfully raised a family of five children. Because of his professional military career, their children were born in four different states and one foreign country. Ruth passed away in 2005.

Commissioned in 1952, Robert was later assigned to Army Intelligence under CIA operational control. In 1962 Captain Taylor was a member of the team that located and reported the presence of Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba. This finding allowed President Kennedy to bring sufficient pressure on the Soviet leaders to cause them to withdraw the missiles.

In Southeast Asia, his team discovered North Vietnamese efforts to construct a road network extending from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia into South Vietnam. This road network became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Lt. Col. Taylor’s knowledge of photographic imagery systems allowed him to be the first Army officer to realize the potential national systems had to also satisfy tactical commanders’ requirements. He crusaded to ensure that products from national collection endeavors were made available to tactical commanders in the field in a timely manner.

After retirement in 1972, he remained at Fort Huachuca as a civilian developing new methods to bring national imagery to tactical commanders, including origins of our current GPS system. He designed a related project for Space Shuttle Flight 44 in 1991.

The Army inducted him in the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame in 1999. Among numerous decorations are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, National Defense Medal, and the Vietnamese Medal of Valor.

In his post career, Robert began a new chapter in life when he married Janell Robin Newton in 2006. The two have been inseparable in their travels and enjoyment of a large extended family. Active in the United Church of Christ as well as many local community activities, ‘Bob and Jan’ were a common sight throughout Sierra Vista and hosted many friends and colleagues in their own backyard.

Bob is survived by his devoted wife of 15 years, Janell Taylor of Sierra Vista, and his children: Michael Taylor of Tucson, Charles Taylor of Flagstaff, Terese Taylor Doordan of Santa Barbara, California, Elena Taylor Hartman of Tucson, and Scott Taylor of San Antonio, Texas. Also surviving him at the time were five grandchildren: Ronica Taylor, Stephen Taylor, and Thomas Puertas, of San Antonio, Texas; Jennifer Hartman Benedetto of Phoenix, and Cole Crimi of Longmont, Colorado. His sister, Elizabeth Taylor Cisterna of Phoenix, and brother-in-law, Robert L. Johnson of Hillsborough, California also survive as well as two great-grandchildren, Eliana and Olivia Benedetto of Phoenix. Also surviving are several Newton step grandchildren in Arizona who looked up to Bob.

As Covid took Bob’s life, so has the pandemic delayed his memorial services until now, his birthday date, Saturday, October 30, 2021. That service will take place at the Sierra Vista United Church of Christ at 11am. The celebration of life will follow at high noon. Bob always did use any excuse to hold a good party so wear your U of A colors. He will be interred at the Southern Arizona Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Sierra Vista, on Monday, November 1, 2021, at 10am. If you wish to make a donation in his memory, consider the SV United Church of Christ.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of LTC, Robert, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
October 30, 2021

11:00 AM
Sierra Vista Church of Christ (Village Meadows)

November 1, 2021

10:00 AM
Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery 1300 Buffalo Soldiers Trail Sierra Vista
1300 Buffalo Soldier Trail
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635

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