Widow, children of North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor are given a new home

The family of the former mayor, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2018, will soon move into the new home at a reduced cost.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jed Nilson, second from left, presents a ceremonial key to Jennie Taylor and her seven children outside their new home in North Ogden, Thursday July 14, 2022. Taylor is the widow of former Major Brent Taylor, Mayor of North Ogden and Utah National Guard, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2018.

Jennie Taylor will never forget the surprise offer that came to her with a knock at her old house.

It was December 2018, and when she responded, she saw her real estate agent standing next to Jed and Bruce Nilson of Nilson Homes. Together they wanted to build Taylor a new home.

Her husband, former Mayor of North Ogden and Maj. Brent Taylor of the Utah National Guard, had been killed in action less than a month earlier. Her house was then, Taylor thought to herself, the place where her children held memories of their father, where she still felt the presence of her husband. She said thank you to the Nilsons, but no thanks.

Months passed and finally Taylor realized that her old house wasn’t right for her and her seven children. She accepted the Nilsons’ previous offer.

And on Thursday the family stood in front of their newly completed house.

“I am grateful to Brent for his service and the legacy he left us,” Taylor said at the dedication. “We owe almost everything that is beautiful in our lives to him and his ministry. Opportunities like this home behind me, the car I drive, the travel opportunities I have to speak or interact with other veterans or military members around the world. It’s all because I fell in love with a man who loves a country I’ve loved since childhood.”

Move in and make plans

The home sits on a 3 acre lot in North Ogden that Jennie and Brent Taylor bought together years ago. The 5,070 square foot, five bedroom home is the result of a collaboration between Have A Heart, a project started in 1998 by the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors that has resulted in the construction of 35 homes, and Nilson Homes.

The Taylor family’s new home is at the end of a cul-de-sac. All of the windows inside face the mountains that Taylor added and which are also etched on Brent Taylor’s tombstone.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Visitors tour a room honoring Brent Taylor at the newly completed home of Jennie Taylor and her seven children in North Ogden, Thursday, July 14, 2022. Taylor, the former mayor of North Ogden and Utah National Guard Major, killed while on duty in Afghanistan in 2018.

Immediately upon entering the home, a room displays Brent Taylor’s uniform, honors and souvenirs from his travels in military service, and a painted portrait of the Taylor family.

The family has already started making plans for the official move-in. Jennie Taylor hopes to use the spacious living room for gatherings with friends and family. She plans to install trampolines and aerial silks for her daughter, who is a “circus star.” The house already has a cinema, a game room with air hockey and table football and a home fitness area.

“When you talk about who has a huge debt to pay to America and the soldiers who are giving their lives for us, I feel like my children and I owe quite an unpayable debt to all of you and everyone else who has kept us on our feet for almost four years,” Taylor said Thursday.

Experience sparks new developer initiative

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jacob Taylor plays with a mini basketball in his bedroom in the newly completed home of Jennie Taylor and her seven children in North Ogden, Thursday July 14, 2022. Taylor is the son of the former North Ogden Mayor and Utah National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor, who was killed in 2018 while on duty in Afghanistan.

Nilson Homes reached out to its committee, trading partners, contractors and suppliers to solicit donations to help build the Taylors’ new home, Jed Nilson said Thursday. He called the resulting generosity “outrageous” and reported that donations to the project, including materials and labor, reached six figures.

The construction of the Taylor family’s new home, Nilson said, has sparked a new initiative within Nilson Homes.

“We now want to build one of these houses every year and build one of these in our communities and discount them heavily for veterans who either have families of deceased veterans or veterans who are fighting,” Nilson said.

Many veterans face mental health or economic difficulties after returning from military service. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that over 40,000 veterans in America become homeless every night. While veterans make up only 7% of the national population, nearly 13% of adults affected by homelessness are veterans.

Last year, nine of the 117 Utahns who died from homelessness were veterans.

“Nothing makes me happier than knowing that Nilson will continue this tradition and help other families,” said Taylor.

Jennie Taylor’s mission is to serve military families in Utah and across the country. She currently serves as the Utah Civilian Advisor to the Secretary of the Army and serves on the Military Affairs Committee at the Utah Executive for the Weber and Davis Chambers of Commerce.

After her husband’s death, Taylor established the Major Brent Taylor Foundation, which provides students with education, community service, and scholarship opportunities.

“I will forever be grateful that we have this house and a roof over our heads. But this is so much more than a house,” Taylor said. “To me, this is a symbol that God’s hand and Brent’s hand endure in our lives.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jennie Taylor makes remarks as a Gold Star flag flies outside her new home in North Ogden, Thursday July 14, 2022. Taylor is the widow of former North Ogden Mayor and Maj Brent Taylor , who was killed while on duty in Afghanistan in 2018.

Editor’s Note • This story is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/07/15/so-much-more-than-house-widow/ Widow, children of North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor are given a new home

Justin Scacco

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