One of the unfortunate disappointments of COVID–19 has been the cancellation of a party of a dear friend. For two years George Taylor has been planning to invite 90 of his friends and family to his 90th birthday celebration. Because his wife Marsha and I are the same age, born two days apart, I’ve piggy-backed on some of the parties he’s planned for her, like her 50th when he filled their West Vancouver backyard with food stations and live music, including the “Spice Girls” (Marsha’s playful ‘sistas’ Marie and Elaine and her friends Gina and Corrine). George knows how to throw a party and would have loved to see each you at his on October 23! Consider this blog his virtual birthday party!
We first met George at conferences in the 1980s, when he in Vancouver and Spice in Calgary were part of an international business travel company. Spice and I liked his forthrightness, keen interest in politics (he was instrumental in Vancouver’s TEAM and “a backroom boy” provincially for years), his engagement with people and sense of humour. In the 90s he married the convivial Marsha and the four of us began drinking wine together around the world, trying to forget our golf scores at Lahinch and Big Sky and trying to remember the names of towns we loved in Cinque Terre and Tuscany.
Always a leader and organizer, George was elected President of The UBC B. Comm. Class of 1955. Alumni and associates from that period include Former Canadian Ambassador Maldy Thomas, Jimmy Pattison and Robert Lee.
Having put himself through university working as a butcher at Jackson Meats, it was a giant step forward to Crown Zellerbach, where he was featured in their recruiting ads. “Soon, as a full-fledged representative, George will make his first solo sale, make his first tough decisions. Then he will win his next degree–Master of Opportunity.” One transfer he didn’t enjoy was to Calgary, where he found driving the winter roads across the prairies to make sales calls particularly frustrating. When management caught wind that he was considering resigning, they transferred George to San Francisco where he observed the new age of political activism.
After returning to Vancouver, he became active in civic politics. In 1967, a group of executives held regular Wednesday noon luncheons in the Grosvenor Hotel, intent on unseating the NPA and Tom Campbell who had the reputation of being everything a mayor should not be: anti-intellectual, contemptuous of citizen participation and committed to private profit in civic development. A nucleus of key people held their first “official” meeting at the home of Art Phillips and their second one around George’s dining-room table. In March 1968, “The Electors Action Movement” (TEAM) publicly emerged with Art Phillips as interim president.
TEAM was a reform group seeking to reverse certain policies of the city in order to preserve and protect the features that make Vancouver a beautiful and pleasant place to live, work and raise a family. In December 1968, TEAM elected Art Phillips and Walter Hardwick to council.
The election in 1972 brought TEAM to power, with the party electing the mayor (Phillips), eight of the ten aldermen, eight of the nine school trustees and four of the seven park commissioners. In his two terms as mayor of Vancouver in the 1970s, Art Phillips and TEAM set the foundation for Vancouver’s later emergence as a model for downtown density and neighbourhood-oriented communities. From reversing a plan to run a freeway along the city’s waterfront to saving the Orpheum Theatre and developing False Creek’s south shore, Phillips sought to create a city that integrated livability with growth. The Orpheum Theatre is the home of the Vancouver Symphony of which George was a director for many terms. On a side note, during this period, a future political powerhouse, Gordon Campbell, was the executive assistant to Art Phillips.
George joined Simons International Corporation as a senior executive under the leadership of Thomas A. Simons. It was a group he loved working with and as Head of Human Resources, he had challenging responsibilities in hiring and transferring professionals to foreign assignments. Failure to do this exceptionally well would be demoralizing for the assignees and their families. George was parachuted into the agency Simons used for their travel to redesign the interface and processes. Simons subsequently took over the agency and made George its president. Atlas Travel became the largest independent business travel agency in British Colombia under the leadership of George, who hired two exceptional executives to assist him, his daughter Jennifer and son Keith! He ultimately bought the agency from Simons and with impeccable timing sold it just before his clients migrated to making their own online bookings.
In 1984, George joined the NPA supporting Gordon Campbell’s team. Campbell was elected to council and then Mayor of Vancouver for three successive terms from 1986 to 1993. Notable events in civic politics during that period included development of the Expo Lands, re-development of Yaletown and the foundation for residential development of Coal Harbour. One of the most significant projects of his term was the new Vancouver Public Library.
In 1993, George followed Gordon Campbell into provincial politics and became president of the Liberal Party. He preferred to work behind the scenes, forming strategy and coaching campaign committees in individual ridings. George is proud of his role in helping Gordon Campbell and the Liberals win the 2001 election and hold power until 2011.
On our first move to Vancouver in 1988, we asked George for his advice. “You’ll hate the politics, but every time your plane lands, you’ll kiss the ground and love to be home.”
With their interest in others and broad perspectives, travel with George and Marsha is always enlightening.
Dec 31 2000—Tofino
Oct 2003—Cinque Terre/Tuscany
Vancouver Civic Politics, 1929-1980* Paul Tennant
Former mayor set the stage for Vancouver’s future as a livable city
George Taylor: It’s no surprise that one of the oldest living UBC Commerce class presidents is a people person.
Happy Birthday George,
We wish we could have been there with you to celebrate with you and Marsha and all your friends.
Over the years living close to you, we had the best time sharing stories over meals and copious martinis.
Missing you both a lot,
I only met you once, with my sister Shelagh, whilst you and Marsha were visiting Spain….but you were so friendly and funny….a very happy birthday xx
Wow George, 90 years old, a wonderful milestone for a remarkable man!
So many great adventures, stories, and memories over the years
Hope you had a wonderful celebration despite COVID making a face to face party impossible.
Happy Birthday George, here’s to a great year!
Love Susan and Ian
Hi George and Marsha
So many congratulations to you both – your are the Original Power Couple, and I hope you stay that way for a long time. You are awesome, George. Since you’ve reached 90, I devoutly hope you see many more, and particularly many more years being half of one of the most dynamite couples I know. It is hard to think we have known each other for so much of our long lives – if my memory serves me right, we likely met in the fall of 1951 – 1952, at least, and that makes us lifelong friends. I know Brian would be front and centre with good wishes for the future, as I am. Love you both. Wish you many more years of your wonderfully rewarding marriage.
Love, Faye, and heartfelt wishes, which I hope you can sense and feel, from your old buddy Brian.
George, congratulations on your 90th birthday! We have some fun memories of you learning to ski, playing golf together, and drinking wine and eating many times, whether in Vancouver, Whistler or La Quinta. You are such an inspiration!
Wishing you many years of new memories and adventures together with Marsha and your many friends and family!
Marlene and Alan
Dear George: Many happy returns on your special day — you are are testament to healthy living and positive attitude in everything you do and it shows because you don’t look anywhere near 90! Celebrate with your favourite drink and your favourite lady, Marsha!
Big virtual hug,
ps: hope this message goes through as I sent one this morning and it didn’t appear on the list of replies
Happy Birthday grandpa, sure miss you on this big day, would’ve been a great celebration to spend in person. Grandpa you’re a hell of a man that’s lead a great and inspiring life of hard work, dedication and rewards, I owe a lot of my life journeys to you. You taught my dad about hard work and being a man and as you gave that to him, he gave it to me. My most memorable moment with you was at the country club sitting down over a beer and listening to you talk about life and life lessons, that’ll be something I cherish forever. Have a great day, happy birthday grandpa.
George, what an incredible journey! May your day be filled with love and happiness… and a lovely glass of wine. Enjoy this very special day.
Love Jim and Evonne
George, from the time we met in the Loire Valley in France (drinking wine in the garden of DaVinci’s former home) until today, you have been an inspiration, friend and loving husband. We have travelled far and wide and climbed many mountains. How lucky I am to share so many adventures with you. And how lucky to meet Gloria & Kerry through you. This blog is something we can continue to look at for a long time and enjoy the messages and pictures from our wonderful families and friends. Thanks Sully’s for this astonishing tribute. George you are an amazing father, grandfather, brother and uncle to your loving family. And you fit in so well with my very OVERSIZED, wild and crazy one. They all love you too!
Happy 90th Sweetheart! Thanks for the journey thus far and I look forward to more.
Love you, Marsha
Tiger’s Nest Bhutan
George, the paradigm of a renaissance man. His warmth, charm, and insights are the underpinnings of a true gentleman. Best wishes on this special day…
Big congrats & happy birthday George on reaching this milestone wow 90, hope you’re having a great day & will enjoy your favourite cocktail 🍸
Love, Linda & Ted
Happy 90th Birthday Grandpa!! I really wish I could be with you to celebrate your big day with you. It feels like it was just yesterday I was in Vancouver with you trying to plan out this big day. You are such a big part of my life and I am so blessed to have such a great grandpa. I hope your birthday is filled with smiles and laughter. I miss and love you so so much. I hope to see you very soon!
Rosabella and I congratulate you at your arrival of your 90th Birthday. Few people make it that far, but you have accomplished it with good style, good health, good humor, and with all of your marbles!
Warmest regards from Bill and Rosabella
Happy 90th Birthday Dad,
It makes me sad to not be there with family and friends celebrating your birthday. Hopefully we can do it for your 91st – you will just have to make one more friend between now and then.
There is so much to say about you – your love, kindness, support and unrelenting pursuit of life are things that everyone admires and adores in you – including me. You’re an amazing Father and Friend who has always been there for me through so many ups and downs. I love you very much and 3 cheers for turning 90. Looking forward to many more Sunday calls with you and hoping we can be together soon. xo Keith
Happy Birthday George! WOW 90 Years young, you truly are an amazing person! You and Marsha are such a great couple, you both love to travel and always seem to have an adventure on the calendar. You fit right into this crazy family…that continues to grow, you will need a new cheat sheet with all the new “great nieces and nephews”!
This picture is from La Quinta on Christmas day in 2018, we look forward to more Christmas days together in the sunshine!
Al & Marie
This is why George needs a cheat sheet!
Happy 90th Birthday, George! You have accomplished so many amazing things in your 9 decades on this planet. I remember meeting you for the first time at Lisa and Keith’s…it was as if I’d known you forever. Your magnetic, charming, confident and witty personality drew us in immediately, and I always looked forward to your visits and reconnecting with you. You defy your age in both lifestyle and outlook. It appears that you have lived life to the fullest…impacting your beloved city, traveling the world, sharing yourself with family and friends, standing up for what you believe in. I am SO glad to know you! Continue to take care of yourself and treat your body well, cause “90” ain’t got nothin’ on you, George. Wishing you your best birthday yet! Tons of love from your extended Colorado family, Megan & John Lopez
Hello and a very happy BIRTHDAY George
Wishing a happy and safe distancing 90th.
Happy 90th Birthday. You have had an incredible journey that has included world travel, political strategizing and of course the integration into the Hunter family. I remember the little cheat sheet you use to carry in your pocket “the who belongs to who” cast of characters. Keeping track of the little ones who now have little ones while the chaso of “the cottage weekend” unfolded in the background. Good travel stories shared over a few glasses of wine and of course your love of being involved to in a cause to make change. Never leaving it to others. Leading and making change while enjoying the love of your life, Marsha.
It would have been nice to be there to share this special event with you. Who would have thought that a world pandemic would have got in the way. Hopefully we would have been on your list of 90 invitees and if not we would have likely crashed your party anyway.
Hope you have a great birthday, party, weekend, year. All the best and talk soon.
Hi George! Sure do miss you. Guess this is where I wish you a big Happy 90th…. just doesn’t ring right to me. You are certainly one of those that we can say ‘it is just a number’ because you and 90 do not go together! However, you have so much to be blessed about (especially raising my husband – thanks for doing such an awesome job!), with what you have accomplished in these years, and you still keep going. You amaze me. I am so happy to have been a part of your life – thank you for your love, your guidance. I just wish we could have celebrated in person on this fun fabulous day of yours. Please know I will be raising a martini in your honor on the 23rd. (in fact ever time I have a martini now I will raise it to you!!). I love you….. thank you for being you! Happy 90th George. Love your daughter-in-law, Lisa. xoxoxo
Happy Birthday George! You are without a doubt one amazing 90 year old!
We have some wonderful memories from our fabulous vacations like France and Osoyoos, family gatherings in Toronto and loved when you and Marsha would come to visit as we moved around the country.
We admire and love you very much, enjoy your special day! We are with you in our hearts!…love, T and Jim
You are such an inspiration!
May the martinis flow on your birthday !
Much love from Ken and Suzanne
George, have a GREAT birthday!! I am Blessed to know such a cool 90 year man..
George 90yrs Young!! You are an inspiration to everyone around you, your smile is infectious and you have a brilliant mind!
I have many fond memories of you over the many years I have known you, but the most memorable ones are from our Golf Trip to South Africa.
On the road going from town to town, golf course to golf course, the group was anxious to find the nearest liquor store, while George was asking the driver to find him the nearest
Ice Cream store, our apre golf Martinis. George loves his Marsha, Ice Cream and Martinis!!
Sorry we all missed the party you were looking forward to!
Happy 90th Birthday George!!
Much love, Naomi.
Happy, happy, special birthday to you! Keiko and I send our very bet wishes on this special day!
It has been almost twenty years since you first joined the VSO Board of Directors, and what a lucky day that was for me. I learned so much from you on so many topics, and your mentorship and support clearly helped me navigate the sometimes choppy waters of managing a performing arts organization. Many of the lessons I learned from you have kept me in good stead to this very day, and I will be forever grateful. Thank you for your guidance, your kindness, your generosity, and your friendship.
Wish we could be with you – and have a wonderful celebration!
Very best wishes,
Wow…..90 years young George! Was looking forward to that big bash…you are still tall & dashing! Going back to 1988 I can still remember meeting you when you came into our office Coastal Travel Ltd (later known as Travel by Design) with Marsha’s suitcases. It certainly got everyone talking and finding out later the you had met up with Marsha on a trip to France with other travel agents. If I remember you returned to France where you asked Marsha to marry you and then in 1991 there was the wedding. Lots of gratitude for you George as you certainly were always there for Marsha and myself when we ever had questions about the business or helping us through some of the rougher times – SARS, volcanos, commission cutbacks. And the annual Vancouver Symphony Christmas concerts that seemed to grow larger every year. Always fun and meeting up with your friends from all walks of life. Thanks for all that George and we send our hugs from St.Catharines, Ontario . Wishing you continued good health David & Laurie Triggs
One of our first memories of you George was when the Hunter family (a small crowd of about 30 at the time) gathered for Thanksgiving. You surprised us all when you decided to drive to a local farm with Marsha and some of the kids to gather veggies to create a lovely cornucopia and to play. We thought you were either madly in love with Marsha or crazy! Obviously the former…
Remembering all our family names was no easy feat but George tackled that brilliantly. He kept a cue card in his wallet. We loved when he pulled it out-so endearing. How worn that card became over the years!
Our trips together-France, AZ, Spain and Osoyoos were memorable, filled with love and laughter. And of course wine, always wine 🙂
As well our visits to your beautiful home, city and province were so much fun. We forgive you for the constant reminders about how Vancouver has no bugs, they’re all in Ontario!!!!
Most impressive George was how you kept up with all of us at Andrew’s Ironman at Whistler, from the very early start walking in the dark to see the start of his swim to waiting at the finish line. And how you ended up in the Red Cross tent that day is a funny story for another time.(Al & Doug!!!!!)
We love you George and admire how you’ve led your “90” young years. Wish we could be with you on Friday! Happy birthday! xoxo
Doug & Gerri
“This pic was taken earlier this year I think at the VSO Lovers Ball.
Such a handsome, young couple! ❤️”
Mayling and I send along our very best wishes and warmest congratulations on this HUGE 90th birthday. We are so sorry that the plans for the in person event had to be cancelled. You could re-schedule for next year!
What a remarkable and largely hidden [from me at least] life you have led. I knew bits about the politics–which I have always enjoying discussing with you over breakfast for a number of years, but much of the rest of your life was all new to me. I was almost exhausted reading about how much you have crammed in to only 90 years. The rest of us would need twice as long.
The travels that you and Marsha have made have turned out to be an inspiration for the travelers in our Saturday group, especially, Japan and, more recently, Ireland. In fact I still have some of the material that you lent me about those and other places hidden somewhere in the mess that is my office. I will keep an eye out for it when[and if] I ever clean it up!
Finally let me say what a delight it is to know you as a friend. I have very much valued our many breakfast conversations and, once we have escaped Covid-19,I look forward to taking up the discussion again. We can begin with the current BC election!
Have a wonderful birthday good friend.
Wishing you the absolute best day and year Uncle George!! We love you tons and can’t wait until we can celebrate together and give you a HUGE hug.
Lots of Love!! xo Tammy, Stu, Ethan & Addison
All the best on 90 George, keep up the activities and have at least a daily Guinness, it’s good for what ales you.
Dad! Your incredible energy and positive outlook on life is such an inspiration. You are absolutely the best Dad a girl could ever have! Wishing you the happiest of birthdays – You are 90 years young! Lot and lots of Love Jennifer
Happy birthday George. You’ve lived such a full life. Here’s wishing you many more years of the same 🥂.
Aren’t we blessed to have wonderful friends like Kerry and Gloria. What a great tribute to your 90th.
Grandpa!!!! Holy smokes I can’t believe you’re 90, WOW, this deserves a huge celebration. While we all aren’t able to be around you during this time just know we are celebrating you and your adventurous 90 years of life from a far. Most people don’t get the chance to do half the things you’ve done or see half the places you have seen, but you have made it happen for yourself with your drive and love of life! You are a role model to so many including myself. I hope to be even half the businessman (women for me) you were, I hope to see the places you’ve seen and travel in your path and I hope to be as wise as you are one day. I love and cherish getting to listen to all your life stories over a few happy hour beers, you’ve made me laugh and learn from them. Cheers to you Grandpa!!! We all love you!!!
Happy Birthday and every day to you George. We feel quite honored to have come to know you. It is rare that one meets a true gentleman and scholar as yourself. Your wisdom, your generosity, your kindness, your respect for all people, your diplomacy, and your desire to help others make you a unique soul in a world that needs more of you. That sense of humor, that twinkle in your eye, your open heart and your giant smile makes for enduring memories. We hold you as a model for ourselves. Be immensely proud of yourself on this day and every day.
You have such a wonderful joy for life and wear it with a smile every time we see you. We love you George and are so honored to take the opportunity to let you know that you are truly a prince of a man and an inspiration. We love you and hope Canada will let us in as you will be the first person we want to see.
Corrine and Oly, Seattle
Happy 90th Birthday Uncle George! Thank you for two very special visits over the last couple of years; one to Powell River to hear the stories and share the memories of yours and Alex’s youth! The post in the basement was really quite something to see! And secondly, your visit to Kaslo last summer. It was so nice to share our little piece of paradise with you and Marsha. The boat ride to the other side of the lake, the campfire and the lovely dinner at Ainsworth; such nice memories! Love you and have a very special birthday. Sandra and Michael Jones
My goodness, the day is finally arriving, but I believe you are only a very young 90 years, as you
are always such a positive inspiration, to all that have been fortunate to have met you.
While I am a newbie, compared to your vast Vancouver base, it is a treat to share your wealth of knowledge,
of politics and far reaching inclusion.
While Covid-2 may be slowing us down…keep up your spirits, bike riding and , your wonderful Red… J Lohr.
All the best , David and Kathy
George, I wish you the most special birthday celebration! Wow- I can’t believe that you are 90! You are a force to be reckoned with… full-on charm, the best hair of any silver fox I know, and a man who knows his wine and how to enjoy life! You are an inspiration to us all. May your birthday bring joy, laughter and fine wine for toasting a true gentleman. You are lucky to have such a gracious lady as Marsha by your side, today and always. Love and celebratory wishes for a fabulous day…Elaine Dahl
Gramps you never fail to amaze me with your wisdom, humour and kind heart. You are truly an amazing man and an even better Grandpa!! You might be turning 90 but you’re still young at heart. Happy birthday Gramps!! I hope you have the most amazing day and I wish I could be there to celebrate but I will see you soon hopefully. Lots of love from NJ xoxo love Stef
George .. Ninety years young! To you the wonders of life will never cease. You are indeed the epitome of a person who strives for joy in everything you do. Happy Birthday Youngster,, ron and jacqui
Those who know George, know he’s in charge of the train,
A natural leader who never turned vain.
Dapper and cheerful and quite debonair
A lover of art with unusual flair,
No wonder his fans still bask in his fame!
And as George starts the next stage of a remarkable life,
We gather round to wish him more happy years free of strife,
As well as an endless supply of the very best beer
Allowing us to continue drinking his health year after year
At many more parties with him and his lovey wife.
Happy, Happy Special Birthday to you, George, my dear friend.
Happy Bday, George. Being the oldest of the stanley park oatmeal gang your knowledge of the weekly discussions was enlightening!
Dear old wise George, Happy 90th. Wow! Keep on Chooglin!,
Cheers and Best Wishes, The Youngest of the stanley park oatmeal gang, Ron
Happy happy 90th. Birthday George! You are still a spring chicken! Enjoy the day and stay happy and healthy together with Marsha. Burke also says hell and happy birthday! Lots of love and hope to see you soon at the Orpheum!