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Family and friends remember Gladys Taylor, founder of the Rocky View Weekly

Gladys Taylor, notable businesswoman, author and publisher, passed away at the age of 97 on May 31 at the Bethany Care Centre in Airdrie.
(Left to right) Susan Taylor, Lorne Taylor Junior, Gladys Taylor and Dennis Taylor checked out a copy of the The Wheel and Deal fresh off the press. Taylor, who passed away
(Left to right) Susan Taylor, Lorne Taylor Junior, Gladys Taylor and Dennis Taylor checked out a copy of the The Wheel and Deal fresh off the press. Taylor, who passed away on May 31, was an award-winning author, successful businesswoman and founder of the Rocky View Weekly.

Gladys Taylor, notable businesswoman, author and publisher, passed away at the age of 97 on May 31 at the Bethany Care Centre in Airdrie.

Taylor, who founded the Five Village Weekly (now the Rocky View Weekly), also received two Ryerson Press Awards for her novels Pine Roots and The King Tree.

Taylor’s eldest son, Dennis, said his mother’s determination enabled her success.

“She basically emptied her bucket list. She did everything she wanted to do,” he said. “Thinking back, I can’t really think of anything she said she wanted to accomplish that she didn’t.”

Taylor was born in Swan River, Man., in 1917. The eldest of seven children, Taylor was an avid reader who worked hard in school, eventually moving to Winnipeg to train as a teacher.

She met Lorne “Scotty” Taylor at a dance in Bowsman, Man., and married him in 1940. Lorne served in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II, and Taylor joined the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in 1943 and served until the end of the war.

She published her first novel Pine Roots, a reflection on her parent’s generation, in 1956. Following her divorce from Lorne and a series of submissions to publications like the Sherbrooke Daily Record, Toronto Telegram and various magazines, Taylor moved to Calgary in 1969 with an eye on getting into the publishing business.

“(Eventually) we ended up coming to Irricana,” Dennis said. “There was no local newspaper around. So the idea was, Irricana or Beiseker could not support a newspaper, so we decided let’s put it together for Five Towns.

“So we kept it as Five Towns and there was enough advertising in the (area) to warrant a newspaper. And (we) expanded over the years and started (others).”

The new paper in Irricana provided employment for many local residents, including Glenda Borson, who at the time worked as Town secretary.

“I moved to the newspaper (in 1988) and I got hired, and (Taylor) was one of my employers,” Borson said. “She absolutely wanted integrity in the paper. She felt so strongly that without integrity, the paper would not fly.”

Borson said Taylor quickly became a mentor to her, and sought to get the best out of all her staff.

“She taught me how to write. I had no formal education, I just had high school. Without Gladys Taylor, I never would’ve written myself,” she said. “I had a bit of a gift, and she taught me and showed me that I had the gift I didn’t know I had.”

After eight years in business and at 60 years old, Taylor looked to take a break from publishing and embarked on a drive around the perimeter of Australia. She would publish the memoir Alone in the Australian Outback in 1984. The book was turned into a 1992 film entitled Over the Hill starring Olympia Dukakis.

“She fell in love with Australia when she was over,” Dennis said. “She went back there many times.”

Taylor was named Calgary’s Businesswoman of the Year in 1983 and ran as an independent candidate in the 1989 Alberta Senate nominee election.

When Taylor turned 75, Borson sat down with her and wrote an article about her birthday.

“Gladys taught me humility. We listed all the things that she had done. She did an amazing amount of things – writing books, being a single mom struggling to build a business from nothing and creating a lot of employment in a small town,” Borson said. “I remember asking her what she was (proudest of). She said the fact that wherever she had lived, she had planted trees.

“I found that shocking. She’s done so much more, but she said that ‘(those) trees will be there long after I’m gone.’”

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