Timothy P. ‘Shorty’ Caylor
Timothy P. “Shorty” Caylor Sr., 76, Town of Rock Falls, passed away at his residence on Thursday, September 5th, 2019. Tim was born in Merrill, WI on March 10, 1943, the son of the late C.L. “Bud” and Jean M. Caylor. On June 5, 1965 he married Donna M. Laak at St. Francis Catholic Church in Merrill.
Tim was a student at St. Francis grade school and he, along with his lifelong friend Jim Peterson, became a loyal Mass server, serving hundreds of Masses including weddings and funerals when he was a child. He went on to graduate from Merrill Senior High School with the class of 1961; Tim lettered in football and was later a member of the Silver M Club and later the Golden M Club. He joined the Wisconsin National Guard in 1961, where he served as tank crewman. In 1962 he became “regular Army” when the local National Guard troop was mobilized during the Berlin Crisis and the group was stationed at Fort Lewis, WA for ten months. During that time, Tim and many of his fellow soldiers swam in the Columbia River. Unbeknownst to them the nearby Hanford Nuclear Power Plant had contaminated the water after which Tim and the majority of his crew got sick with cancer and other illnesses in their 50s. Tim’s cancer and the sickness of his fellow soldiers created a bond which extended well beyond their military bonds.
Tim graduated from Lincoln County Teachers College and became an elementary school teacher at St. Francis Grade School. When the school closed he worked briefly for Merrill Area Public Schools. The unexpected death of Bud Caylor in 1962 left the family in tatters. The entire family stepped up and worked the family store, “Caylor’s Corners,” and eventually Tim and his brother Bill became the operators of the store, growing it into a successful Merrill landmark. The boys were able to expand the store with a new building thanks to their loyal customers including those on the gas route and the many who made Caylor’s their last stop before heading into the woods for hunting season.
The store changed over the years to keep up with consumer trends, and the boys estimated they survived eleven depressions. However, in 2013 the store closed forever, marking the end of 76 years of business that began with Bud on the west side.
Tim was active in organizations such as the American Legion, V.F.W., Silver M Club, and the Knights of Columbus and had served with the National Guard until 1965. In 2009, he and a group of relatives and friends cleaned over 3000 gravestones in St. Francis Cemetery. Tim later expanded his efforts to include many rural cemeteries that contained friends and relatives. While working in Merrill it was learned that over 20 infants were in unmarked graves at both St. Francis and Merrill Memorial Park Cemetery. Tim started a fund which eventually provided each of those graves with permanent markers.
On September 5, 2006, Tim and Donna moved into a new home on what was their hunting land in the Town of Rock Falls. Tim was elected chair of the town of Rock Falls in 2015 and served in that capacity until his death. He was very proud of the fiscal responsibility of the town, which is now debt free.
In his later years Tim’s body slowed but not his spirit. He greatly enjoyed reaching out to family and friends on the phone and making visits throughout town for lunch with friends and the grandkids. He found Facebook and relished the time he spent on it renewing friendships before eventually becoming the official storyteller of the page “Merrill, WI – Strolling Down Memory Lane.”
Survivors include his wife, Donna M. Caylor, Irma; his daughters Mary E. (David) Leopold and Theresa M. (Todd) Schmeltzer, and his son Timothy P. Caylor Jr., all of Merrill. His grandchildren, Jamie Schmeltzer, Justin (Leigha Ollhoff) Schmeltzer, Marissa Wichman, Jacob Leopold, and Jordyn Leopold. His sisters, Kathryn Sensenbrenner, Madison, Mary (Eldred) Kufahl and Margaret Oestreich of Merrill along with his brother Peter (Colleen) Caylor of Fairfax Station, VA, and his sister in law Carol Caylor of Merrill. He is further survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers and sisters in law, T. William (Darlene) Caylor and Michael (Kathleen) Caylor, and his brother Daniel Caylor and his brother in law Myron Oestreich. He was further preceded in death by his father in law and mother in law, Ernest and Charlotte Laak and his sister in law and brother in law Marlene (Gene) Essert.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 P.M., Noon, Friday, September 13th, 2019 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Father Chris Kemp will preside and burial will follow at Trinity Cemetery (Dutch Corners), Town of Schley. Graveside military rites will be conducted by the Merrill V.F.W. Post 1638 Honor Guard. A visitation will be held on Thursday, September 12th, 2019 from 4:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. at the Taylor-Stine Funeral Home, Merrill.
The family wishes to extend their appreciation to the medical staff at Ascension Good Samaritan Health Center and Aspirus Wausau Hospital and Dr. Rajender Polireddy of Marshfield Clinic. Also, thanks to his overnight nurse Hannah at Aspirus Palliative Care who provided him with a lullaby to ease him during what would become his final night on earth. They are also very grateful to Josh, Nick, and Eric from the Merrill Fire Department who helped grant Tim’s wish by bringing him home on Thursday.
The family is being served by the Taylor-Stine Funeral Home. Online condolences can be made at www.taylorstinefuneralhome.com.