By Lindsey Tice, Sun Media
When Ben Taylor was 7, his mother got him involved in golf. For him it was fun. For her it was a bit self-defense.
Because Ben always had to be doing something.
“From the moment he was born, he was on the go,” his mother, Margaret Taylor, said.
It was a passion he never outgrew. And family and friends loved that about him.
“Ben always had the sense that there was going to be a perfect swing, a perfect shot, a perfect play,” his father, John Taylor, said.
Ben, 35, died last Wednesday in an accident while skiing with friends on the expert Black Hole trail at Sunday River in Newry. He was an experienced skier and was wearing a helmet.
Ben worked at Sunday River as a rental technician. He was also general manager and golf professional at the Wilson Lake Country Club in Wilton.
Although he grew up in Pawling, N.Y., on the campus of the boarding school where his parents lived and worked, he spent his summers at the family camp on Canton Lake in Western Maine. He loved being active, and for him that often meant playing golf, soccer and, most especially, baseball.
It was a joy he shared with his younger brother, Will.
“One of the things that always came from him was that getting better was always higher than the competition,” he said. “We challenged each other in that way. It was very clearly about us getting better, because he cared about that for me and for himself,” Will said. “Those are special times that we shared.”
And get better Ben did. He played baseball for a number of Maine teams, from Canton Little League to the adult Pine Tree League. He also played while at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, where he majored in psychology and received a bachelor’s degree in 2002. His college team won two Centennial Conference Championships and was twice invited to the NCAA Division III post-season baseball tournament.
After college, Ben worked at the University of Cincinnati Institute of Research and for the National Institutes of Health.
But golf, the game he learned at 7, called to him. A teacher at heart, he gravitated toward instruction.
In 2012 he settled in Maine, where he worked first as a golf instructor at Camp Skylemar in Naples, then at Harris Golf’s Sunday River Golf Club in Newry. He was named general manager of Harris Golf”s Wilson Lake Country Club in 2014.
Matt Barnard, advertising director for Harris Golf, worked with Ben over the past year.
“When somebody passes away unexpectedly like that, you hear it over and over again: ‘He was such a nice guy,'” Barnard said. “But it’s true. He was such a nice guy.”
He remembered Ben’s sunny, positive, easygoing nature — attributes that served him well as a golf pro and general manager.
“He was a very good golfer, he was great with people and a great teacher,” Barnard said. “Whenever things got hot or there was a lot to do, he had one of those attitudes of just saying, ‘Yep, I’ll do that. I’ll make it happen,'” Barnard said. “He was just always Mr. Solutions.”
By Friday afternoon, more than 50 people had posted to a memorial pageHarris Golf set up online. Many of the commentors had met Ben only once or twice — he gave them golf tips or taught their children how to ski — but even that was enough to mourn his loss.
“We haven’t heard of three-quarters of these people, but he touched all of them,” Barnard said.
The Sunday River ski resort was in mourning Friday, too.
“Everyone is grieving,” spokeswoman Sarah Devlin said.
She remembered Ben as an upbeat, friendly guy who was always willing to help someone.
And then there were his dogs, Leo and Roscoe.
“They were almost like children to him,” Devlin said.
Two days after Ben’s death, she’d heard from a number of people asking about Leo and Roscoe. Many told her they’d take the dogs if needed.
Ben’s parents have received those offers, too. They said the dogs are being cared for and will be placed in a permanent home.
On Friday, Ben’s parents and brother talked of the connections he so easily made with people. They remembered the satisfaction he got from teaching a child how to ski, the joy that came from helping someone on the mountain. They spoke of Ben’s zest for life.
“That’s what I’ll remember, or try to remember, most about him,” his father said. “There’s the perfect swing, the perfect shot, the perfect ski run. All you have to do is try to find it.”