Mother, son who died in Digby house fire remembered as 'heart and soul' of community

·3 min read
Firefighters arrived at the home on Montague Row at 5:50 a.m. Saturday. They discovered the back of the house engulfed in flames with heavy smoke at the front.
Firefighters arrived at the home on Montague Row at 5:50 a.m. Saturday. They discovered the back of the house engulfed in flames with heavy smoke at the front.

(Cassie Williams/CBC - image credit)

A mother and son from Digby, N.S., who died in a house fire on Saturday are being remembered as the "heart and soul" of the community.

Brenda Vidito, 65, and Deker Taylor, 31, were found dead in their home on Montague Row in the south end.

"I think with everything that's going on, I think people are just kind of like, 'When is enough, enough?'" said Jennie O'Brien, a teacher at Digby Regional High School, where Taylor attended.

"It's awful to lose anybody, but to lose kind of the heart and soul — it's just too much. It's just too much."

The back of the house was engulfed in flames and there was heavy smoke at the front when firefighters arrived before 6 a.m.

They discovered one person upstairs and one downstairs. Both were dead.

'Joy of our life'

"[Deker] was the joy of our life and Brenda was a hard worker. She had the biggest heart in the world. She would do anything for anyone," said Andrea McCracken, Vidito's close friend.

"I really don't understand why this had to happen and maybe I never will, but I believe that it happens for a reason and I'm very thankful that they went together."

McCracken had been friends with Vidito for 40 years.

"I was with her when Deker was born, and she couldn't hold him because she had a C-section, so I held him," she said. "[His parents] wanted me to name him so I named him Deker Tyler Benjamin Taylor ... I did everything I could for them."

When Taylor's parents separated, McCracken stepped in to help raise him. Taylor was on the autism spectrum, so she worked as his advocate in school and in the health system.

"Everybody in the community loves and knows Deker. He was very, very polite. He wasn't aggressive," she said. "He was pleasant to people ... and he never gave us any reason to worry about him because he was a very responsible young man."

O'Brien didn't teach Taylor, but he was known as a happy presence in the school.

"Deker was the type of kid that every morning he would stand at the door and open the door for you and welcome you into the school," she said.

"He had certain things he loved to talk to you about and joke around. He had a laugh that you could just always remember."

O'Brien said Taylor loved toy cars, wrestling and offroading, so after he graduated, she offered to take him.

"We did that for about five years. Every summer we'd go offroading and get ice cream at the end of it and it was just awesome."

Mother and son were 'tag team'

Taylor and his mother were inseparable and well known in the small community. They would often visit the local McDonald's and drink coffee together.

"They were so close. Brenda was just his biggest champion. She always did the best by him," O'Brien said.

"Everywhere she went, he was there ... they were just a tag team."

O'Brien said she's not sure if a memorial service has been planned just yet but when it is, it will be very well attended.

"This town is just kind of numb right now and in shock ... to lose these two people in our community that are just fixtures, it's just hard to comprehend."

McCracken said the community has been contacting her with condolences and sharing their special memories of Taylor and Vidito.

"They both had hearts as big as the oceans and they were very caring and concerned people," she said.

"Everybody knew them and everybody respected them and I have no idea why this had to happen at this time."