Mary Taylor: Dedicated Rustington historian passes away aged 91

Rustington historian Mary Taylor, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in 2012, has passed away at the age of 91.

Mary dedicated many years to raising awareness of Rustington’s long and fascinating history and will be remembered for her great service to the village community.

With the help of her husband, Bev Taylor, who is also 91, Mary did a wealth of research about the village and its people, and published a number of books.

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Their sons, Andrew and Graeme, issued a statement to the village on Facebook last night to announce the passing of Mary on December 27, 2021, aged 91.

Mary Taylor wearing her British Empire Medal at Rustington Museum in 2019 for the official opening of the new site. Picture: Steve Robards SR31101903

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She was born Mary Sopp on March 31, 1930, and made the village her home all her life. Mary and Bev were married in October 1951 and they celebrated their platinum anniversary this year.

Andrew and Graeme said Mary had to care not only for them as children but for Bev following a serious industrial accident and subsequently Hodgkin’s lymphoma over a very long rehabilitation time.

Mary and Bev Taylor with the old sign from The Lamb pub in Rustington, which was run by his parents. Picture: Stephen Goodger L47483P7

They said she treated their friends as family and joined in many of their activities and hobbies right up to a few years ago.

Mary devoted much of her later years to producing her numerous local history books, setting up Rustington Heritage Association and Rustington Museum, as well as being on the parish council for a number of years.

This led to Bev and Mary being given the Parishioners’ Award in 1998 and being made the official historians of the village. In 2012, Mary was honoured with the British Empire Medal for her services to Rustington.

Mary will be sorely missed by the village and especially by her family. Mary leaves behind her husband Bev, her sons Andrew and Graeme, her grandchildren Paul, Bethany, Iain, Jenny, Edward, Avalon, Rupert, Tawney and Robyn, along with great grandchildren Ember and Phoebe.

Mary Taylor at Rustington Museum in 2011, holding the 1944 diary of Edgar Sopp, part of a Rustington at War exhibition. Picture: Gerald Thompson L24142H11

CLICK HERE to read more about Mary and Bev and their celebrations for their 70th wedding anniversary.