Remembered: Physics professor held music and faith in balance with science

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For Ruth Taylor, her dad was “an unusual fellow.”

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Pat Taylor was an accomplished physicist and a Rhodes scholar who went on to teach at the Western University’s biophysics department.

But the elder Taylor, who died July 10 at the age of 92, also had a love for music, dancing and God.

“He was a scholar, so he was very academic and very precise, but he had this love of music and dancing,” Ruth said. “I’m not saying scientists can’t do that, but people don’t always put those things together.”

Another thing people don’t usually associate with each other? Science and Christianity — but Taylor wore both proudly on his sleeve, his daughter said.

“He gave talks about Christianity and science and I think, to him, it simply wasn’t a contradiction,” she said. “From his point of view from him, God made the world, and he wanted people to explore and learn about it as a way of honoring creation.”

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In fact, Rev. Kevin George, the priest at St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in London, said science drove part of Taylor’s Christian faith.

“Pat often said in our conversations that he knew so much as a physicist, but he could only know so much as a physicist,” said George, whose church Taylor attended for decades until he remarried at age 85 and moved to a new congregation.

“Pat appreciated the miracle of that. He saw that as part of divine creation, and that there were things that were beyond explanation and that science could only get so far.”

Taylor’s academic career began at the University of British Columbia, where he studied biology and physics. After winning a Rhodes scholarship in 1952, he studied at Oxford University in England — where he met his first wife, Elizabeth — before, among other accomplishments, getting a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and later becoming a professor at Western until his retirement .

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“He really enjoyed his students, and he took teaching very seriously. He thought it was very important,” Ruth Taylor said.

She described her father, who is survived by his four children and wife of seven years, Jeanine, as a family man who loved to spend time with his children, Celtic music and playing bagpipes.

“If we were crying in the night or anything like that, he was the one who would come to comfort us,” Ruth Taylor said.

“I think he was an unusual fellow in many ways, but you could definitely count on him. . . We knew he would be there for us.”

He was a devout Christian who led by example, added George.

“He showed people what it looks like to follow Jesus,” he said. “He did it by his actions dele, and that’s what we need more of in this world.”


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