Known for her passion and heart for animals, Taylor lost her battle with cancer Wednesday. She was 76.
Before she died, however, Taylor made sure her legacy wouldn’t die with her. The non-profit animal rescue and rehabilitation center, God’s Little Critters, will no longer be located at the 1609 Peru Center Road, Willard location, but will reopen in time at a Plymouth location.
“Of course she passed away and can no longer run it,” said her husband of 55 years, Stanton Taylor. “She made arrangements to try to spare it as an entity. It’ll still be God’s Little Critters, just under different management.”
Bob Calala will take over the business on his Plymouth property, one that will give the animals more than an acre of land, Taylor said. Calala is in the process of moving the business and Taylor said it’s unknown when the new location will officially open.
That was Maribeth, her husband said, always putting the animals first. Also in line with her unassuming personality, she asked her family for “a simple headline and no real ceremony” when she passed, he said.
“It’s a very low-key thing. That’s what she wanted. She didn’t want much. She always wanted the very least. And she didn’t want much after this because the cancer was not kind to her,” he said, choking up as he talked of his wife’s battle the past few months.
“When she passed away, she didn’t have an awful lot of birds on hand — only what she absolutely couldn’t turn away,” he added. “These last couple months, she knew she had cancer and she knew chances were she wasn’t going to make it out of it.
That didn’t stop her from helping the animals as much as possible, Stanton said. And that was just one of her “many talents.”
“Oh dear, she was very bright,” her husband recalled.
“And as far as a husband was concerned, I thought she was an overachiever. I always accused her reach of exceeding her grasp. She was never satisfied with what she did and she always wanted to do more and thought she should do more. ... She was very talented and did a lot of different things in her career.”
She worked as a telephone operator for Northern Ohio Phone Company, now known as Frontier Communications, in Norwalk, according to her obituary. She also held a position as an administrator at Van Allen Insurance Agency, and was the office manager for labor relations at the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen prior to founding and becoming president of God’s Little Critters over 25 years ago.
Maribeth was a member of the Church of the Master in Steuben and was involved with the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (O.W.R.A.), as well as the National Wildlife Association (N.W.A.). She was known for her love of music, teaching vocals and piano lessons, and for her love of birds.
“Her talents — she just had so many of them,” Stanton Taylor said. “She was a pretty darned good businessman, too. I really admired that because I never was. ... She swung a strong fist for such a small lady. She was known all over the county and state and was appreciated all over by everyone. They’re all going to miss her.”
Beginning early in her life, music was a joy for his wife, Taylor said.
“She was a real musician,” he said. “She taught music — the piano, and voice a little once in a while. She had a trained voice.”
He said she was most known for her greatest passion — wildlife.
“Everyone that knew her thought that was her greatest talent — connecting with animals and birds,” Taylor said. “That truly was her greatest passion. She gave up everything — her music and everything — to go into the rehabilitation thing 25 years ago. She just kept on building on it and building on it.”
Reflector reporter Cary Ashby worked with Maribeth Taylor on several occasions for various stories and to gather information to verify accuracy. He recalls how she always greeted everyone with a hug.
“Maribeth had a real big passion for animals and that was obvious from the way she acted and way she talked about it. You could tell she truly loved what she was doing. It was one of those situations that it wasn’t just a job for her, but it was a passion that filled her soul,” Ashby said.
“As a person, she just had a vibrancy about her personality that was evident any time you talked with her. She was a real sweetie pie.”
He added that her “calming presence” left an impression and contributed greatly to her work.
“She’ll be very missed,” Ashby said. “She was a great advocate of wild animals and a good steward of nature.”
A native of Maine, she moved to this area in 1963.
In addition to her husband, survivors include a daughter, Lynne M. Bayley, of Willard, a son, Stanton Taylor, of Candler, N.C., and a granddaughter.