Place of death: October 7, 2022, Victoria, BC.
Place of birth: September 4th, 1941, Galt, Ontario.
On October 7th, 2022, Clare Taylor died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends, at the Victoria Hospice, Royal Jubilee Hospital, in Victoria, BC. In the following moments his loved ones hope he became – in accordance with his beliefs – enmeshed with the energy flow of the universe.
Clare is survived by his children, Craig (Mayita) and Skott (Alexandra); his two grandsons, Sebastian and Theodore; and his siblings and siblings-in-law, Barbara (Tom), Cam (Joanne), Jim (Barb) and Nancy-Jean, and their families; and Marian Luxton, his former wife, who remained a great friend, as well as friends in Vietnam and around the world. He is predeceased by his brother Robert and parents, Walter and Joyce.
Clare was defined by a restless spirit and a lifelong quest for knowledge, both spiritual and intellectual. He was born in Galt, Ontario, moved west to Alberta in high school, and south after graduation to Spokane, Washington, where he scored a few brilliant goals as a right winger for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. He studied theology at the Scarborough Missions seminary, and then graduated from both London Teachers’ College and Niagara University
After marriage (1972), the birth of his first son (1976; Craig), Clare and his family moved west to Vancouver Island, and after the birth of a second son (1980; Skott) they spent years exploring the island, paddling its lakes, hiking its trails, and swimming in the ocean in Lantzville. Clare taught in the SD68 system; teaching and counseling were a means to connect. He was beloved by students, who recognized him as a compassionate listener. Clare embraced change, growth and travel. He once told the story of a co-worker who, lumbering past him on a staircase, said: “Only 19 more years.” Determined to live a life less ordinary, Clare flew to Beijing in 2000, on the Monday after he was done with the job, and spent a couple years teaching English, eating Szechuan hot pot, and exploring the city. In 2003, he moved to Ho Chi Minh City to work for Saigon Children’s Charity and half a decade working in the community and cycling the busy streets.
He made lasting connections and developed a love for Vietnamese culture and beliefs. Throughout his time there, he read, sang, played his Vietnamese flute, observed the world, and even wrote dispatches for literary magazines. He strove to understand and appreciate the workings of the universe, which might seem like a daunting solitary pursuit, but for Clare served as a reason to talk with strangers, debate with friends, and wonder at the complexity of both the human cell and the poetry of Keats. He was pleasantly mystified by the movements of his life. A quote from WH Auden remained pinned above his desk: ‘We are lived by powers we pretend to understand: / They arrange our loves; it is they who direct at the end…’
Back in Canada, while recuperating from one of his many hip operations, Clare was able to carefully pick his way down to the banks beside Bowker Creek in Victoria, and instead of the pain of immobility, his writings at that time mention the beauty of the stream – its movement was emblematic of his belief in the eternal flow of life.
A diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis in 2009 led to years dedicated to breath, meditation, observance, and compassion. He not only lived longer than expected, but lived well, pumping his fist in the air while pedaling his stationary bike and singing along to Billy Joel. He took on the name ‘Charlie’ – why not? – and was cared for by a series of talented and compassionate VIHA home care workers.
He’ll be remembered for his cooking, his blue eyes, and the intelligence and compassion behind them, as well as a sense of humour necessary for anyone who worked in the Nanaimo school system. His life of curiosity led him on a journey through the teachings of the seminary to an array of subsequent passions: philosophy, energy work, Buddhism, socialism, fly fishing, painting, quantum physics, and the songs of Buddy Holly. He not only saw but deeply engaged with cultures around the world and loved to take visitors to his favorite spots in Vietnam, including the beach at Mui Ne, where both deep conversation and sunset appreciation were possible.
Near the end of his life, Clare wrote about the trees along the banks of Bowker Creek. “The alder is one element in the drama of life’s longing for itself, being played out in front of us. Are we, each part of us, part of the forest, part of the creek, part of the interdependency?” For Clare, the answer was a resounding yes. Until the end, he was aware of, as he put it, “the warmth of the sun, the gathering interdependent plenitude of water, matter, substance, atoms, and molecules, cells, organisms, organs, all making up the fabric of the forest.” He was aware of himself as more than an image, more than a manufactured identity. “Aware of being conscious of my own consciousness,” he wrote. “Aware of the interdependencies surrounding me, the significances in the surroundings, in each element. Aware of each shape, as distinct and distinctive, yet part of the whole.”