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Orbituary: Robert Jackson Taylor (1958-2022)

Adjunct associate professor, Robert Jackson Taylor, has died 64 years of age.
Foto: Robert Jackson Taylor.
Foto: Robert Jackson Taylor.

Orbituary. Robert Jackson Taylor, of Portland and Sedgwick ME, born August 27, 1958 in Bryn Mawr, PA, to Nancy Highsmith Taylor and Charles Alvin Taylor. Robert died November 29, 2022, in hospice in Scarborough, ME. Robert lived in Bryn Mawr until he was ten, when the family moved to Bethesda, MD. He graduated from Walt Whitman High School and after a year at Duke University, transferred to Oberlin College, where he graduated in 1982. He began a long career communicating about science by teaching Biology and Chemistry at Georgetown Day High School in Washington DC. In 1993 he received his PhD in Chemistry from Georgetown University. Meanwhile, he had begun work as a science journalist, employed for several years by the Journal of NIH Research, and later as a freelancer contributing to magazines such as Science, Scientific American, and New Scientist. He was then hired as a contractor by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to do multiple writing tasks including, for several years, preparing congressional testimony for the Director, Dr. Fauci. At NIAID, Robert began a long collaboration with the epidemiologist Dr. Lone Simonsen. Together, they left NIH and for several years managed a small company, SageAnalytica, preparing epidemiological studies for government and commercial customers. SageAnalytica closed operations when Dr. Simonsen returned to academic life in Denmark. In the spring of 2022, their most recent collaboration resulted in the establishment of the PandemiX Center, a pan-Scandinavian center for epidemiological studies, associated with Roskilde University in Denmark, where Robert was appointed an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Science and Environment.

While teaching at Georgetown Day High School, Robert met and married Sarah McMillan Taylor (Sally) in 1984. For thirty years, they lived in Falls Church, VA, raising four children. Robert worked part-time during many of those years so that he could be fully involved in his children’s lives. In addition he contributed his time to several local organizations, particularly the Family Life Education Committee in the Falls Church Public Schools, the George Mason High School FIRST Robotics Team, the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, and the DC Science Writers Association.

After enjoying yearly summer and winter holidays in Sedgwick ME, in 2012 Robert and Sally purchased the old Sedgwick general store, and converted this to a year-round residence, spending increasing amounts of time in this beautiful location, and moving permanently in the spring of 2016. Indulging a shared love of 19th century houses, the following year they purchased a second home in Portland ME as an urban get-away and to allow easier visiting with two of their daughters. In Sedgwick, Robert participated in the Sedgwick Library Association, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Maine, the Bagaduce Chorale, Maine Shape Note Singers, the Winter Harbor Music Festival, as well as remotely with the Central Baptist Church in Wayne, PA.

Over the years, Robert enjoyed hiking, biking, camping, boating, swimming and regularly played Ultimate Frisbee in the DC area and in Bar Harbor ME. He enjoyed traveling abroad and in the U.S. and Canada. He had a love of woodworking, and liked to rescue and refurbish items ranging from old instruments to old houses, sharing many of these activities with his family. He enjoyed playing the mandolin, banjo and guitar with his friends. A trip to Camp Fa-sol-la in Alabama in 2014 introduced Robert and Sally to the Sacred Harp tradition of Shape Note Singing, from which time they became enthusiastic shape note singers.

Robert is mourned by many, but particularly his wife of 38 years, Dr. Sarah M. Taylor of Sedgwick and Portland, ME; his step-daughter Julia Nelson of Montgomery Village, MD, her husband, Dean, and three children; his step-daughter Clara Bolduc of Auburn, ME, her husband Glen and four children; his son Nathaniel (Nate) Taylor of Albuquerque, NM and his fiancé, Heather Soltis; his daughter Rachel Taylor of Portland, ME and her partner, Alex Pine of Lewiston, ME. Robert is also survived by his step-mother, Alice Taylor, his brothers Russell and David Taylor, and his sister Jean Taylor Cox, ten nieces and nephews, and thirteen grandnieces and grandnephews.