It was standing room only in Adelaide Town Hall on Thursday morning August 18th when over 1100 people packed the historic concert hall to pay tribute to beloved landscape architect, Kevin Ross Taylor.
The grand Victorian architecture and soaring ceilings of the most majestic space in Adelaide Town Hall contrasted with displays of white spring blossoms from the Botanic Gardens, a forest of seedlings from State Flora at Belair and a beautifully simple `house’ for Kevin fashioned from Tasmanian oak by Adelaide-based master craftsman and furniture designer, Khai Liew.
Ashleigh Tobin OAM played the magnificent organ, with the congregation’s heartfelt singing of “Amazing Grace”, led by soloist Lauren Henderson, reverberating throughout the historic building.
Celebrants Geoff Boyce and Rev. Sandy Boyce, neighbours and dear friends of Kate and Kevin, officiated, lending support to those who paid tribute to Kevin.
Called back from Germany by Kevin’s spirit, Kaurna Aboriginal cultural bearer, Karl Winda Telfer conducted a Ceremony of Spirit for his beloved friend.
Tributes were paid by Kevin’s brother, Ron Taylor, Wendy Sarkissian, Phil Harris, Judith Hughes, Perry Lethlean and members of Taylor Cullity Lethlean, Greg Burgess, Kevin’s daughters, DanaÃ« and Emily Taylor, and Dom Chris of the New Norcia Benedictine monastery in Western Australia.
Ron Taylor chronicled Kevin’s early life, explaining that he had been, because of the early death of their father, like both a brother and a son to him. He offered an understanding of the man who was, in Ron’s words, “born into a conservative Christian family of very limited means.” He helped us understand that humble origins, in this case, were no impediment to greatness. His brother is, in his words, “a self-made man”: a beautiful person, no ego, no alpha male, no need for them – peace-loving, quietly but highly focussed.”
I spoke directly to Kevin, acknowledging that he lives on in our lives, our work and our love for him.
I chronicled some of his early days as my architecture student and expressed my gratitude for “a great, humble and exceptionally beautiful man.”
Perry Lethlean made no secret of the fact that “Kevin was our secret”: a unique, calm and quiet leader, with a moral compass with which his colleagues could connect. Perry said, “His values became our shared values without us ever realising it.”
Phil Harris, survivor of the accident that ended Kevin’s life on Earth, spoke of the many insights and small delights of sharing time with him, especially in the days before the accident.
DanaÃ« Taylor reminded us that while he was many things to many people, Kevin always was and always will be, to her and Emily, “Our Dad”, consistently communicating his love for them in many, many touching ways.
For Kevin’s close friend, architect Greg Burgess, Kevin was “like a crucible â”€ an intense inner alchemical fermentation always going on; of suffering, aspiration, love, transformation and healing.” He celebrated Kevin’s ability to be “intensely present” and his profound inner gratitude to be alive. Greg echoed the words of other speakers when he described “the wonderful complementarity” between Kevin and his wife, Kate Cullity, how they adored and supported each other in an atmosphere of redemptive love.
A long personal and professional friendship nourished by many annual holidays had enriched Greg’s picture of his friend: “When working with Kevin, mystery was respected, enchantment encouraged, silence, love and grace had a place and a time.”
In the beautifully illustrated commemorative booklet was a dream recorded by Kevin a fortnight before he died:
Arms outstretched, lifting off the ground
Others flying too
Flying smoothly, gliding,
Looking down at the earth below.
It’s so easy.
That was the last entry in Kevin’s journal.