Retired Washington State University English professor John Chesley “Ches” Taylor passed away Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. He was 85.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Brown-Taylor; his sister, Stuart Massie; his three adult children from his first marriage (to Auda Vargas Taylor, Dec. 1988), William “Pepe” Taylor, Stephanie Taylor-White (both of the greater-Seattle area), and Rogers “Rog” Taylor, of Arlington, Va.; and his grandchildren, Carmen, Olivia, Gabriel, Maya and Faith.
Ches was born in 1935 in Edinburg, Texas, to Albert and Alice Taylor. He received his Ph.D. in English literature from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he met his first wife, Auda, and started a family. The Taylors then moved to Pullman in 1966, where he began teaching English at WSU (then WSC).
Ches’ life’s work was teaching. He was a passionate, engaging, vivacious and sometimes quite witty lecturer and facilitator of class discussion. Professor Taylor had a special connection with his students, many remaining friends after college, and many more who remember him and his classes enthusiastically. Since his passing, we’ve heard from some of his past students. Here are two remembrances: “I never forgot his riveting lectures on Shakespeare.” “Ches was an incredible personality, was always very kind to me, and he had a great passion for teaching. I enjoyed my first Shakespeare class with him so much, I took a second.”
Ches was also a loving and involved father, spending time with his kids playing tennis (he loved that game!), camping, traveling, just sitting and talking, and, yes, doing yard work (thanks, Dad!). The dinner table was often the stage for exploration of any number of topics — sometimes serious, at times raucous, and invariably positive. Always the teacher, he loved to talk about ideas and pursue critical thinking and knowledge with his kids.