Dr. Stewart F. Taylor Sr., M.D., 96, of Portage, father, grandfather and loyal companion, died in his home of natural causes on Dec. 26, 2017.
He was born in Portage on Sept. 24, 1921, to Zelia and William Taylor. His first name came from his mother’s grandfather, William A. Stewart M.D., who served as a surgeon for the Union during the American Civil War. Another great-grandfather, Dr. William Meacher, also served as a surgeon in the Grand Army of the Republic. Following his service to the Union, William Meacher Jr. of rural Columbia County returned to Portage where his father had settled the family circa 1840, prior to statehood. William Meacher Jr. set up the family’s medical practice which carried on through his son, Byron Meacher M.D., and grandson, William Taylor Sr. and then Stewart F. Taylor Sr. would continue that practice.
Stewart Sr. graduated from the local high school in 1939, before attending Beloit College. The events at Pearl Harbor in 1941 accelerated his plans. Like many of his generation he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was then assigned to the University of Chicago medical school to be trained for service. The university was a pressure cooker at the time, where efforts were simultaneously underway to develop the world’s first atomic weapon (known as the Manhattan Project). Stewart Sr. was part of that same war effort, working just across the street at times.
After completing his post-graduate medical training at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago, he was deployed with the rank of captain. Much of his service was at sea transporting troops between U.S. coastal cities and theaters of war. As a non-combatant he experienced the devastation in Germany and Japan on foot, and took great interest in the non-violent efforts to rebuild those nations during the post-war years.
These were the seminal moments in his life that cultivated his sense of purpose in both his medical career and nonprofessional pursuits — including family, music, photography, art, literature and golf.
It was in 1943, however, that he achieved what he considered to be his finest accomplishment. He married the love of his life, and mother of his six children, Barbara Ellett of Oak Park, Chicago, on June 19. Barbara gave birth to their first child, Charles, on Sept. 9, 1945, and went on to deliver Jane, Stewart Jr., Paul, Anne and Elizabeth to this world. Family was important to him.
Stewart Sr. was an avid learner until his final hour. His favorite author was probably Charles Dickens. He loved to listen to classical music and was a patron of the Great Courses lectures in Science and Humanities. He was a lifelong member of the National Geographic Society, proud of his meticulously bound complete set. He embraced the internet when it made the paper-bound Britannica’s obsolete, and was practiced on his iPad.
A perfect Sunday for him was spent in the darkroom developing photos with his children, training them in photo technique while listening to the Metropolitan Opera. Later in life, perfect meant playing golf with friends or watching a Cubs game.
He was sharp-witted, funny, and independent until the afternoon he laid down to rest forever. He will be sorely missed and always remembered for the love and support he gave us. He was predeceased by Barbara Ellett Taylor, who passed in 2003; and two brothers, Donald and Clayton; as well as his daughter-in-law Dr. Kathleen Taylor. His family is honored by his long life. He is survived by his brother, William Taylor Jr, who celebrates his 100th birthday this month; all six of his children, Dr. Charles E. Taylor (Minna), Los Angeles, Jane (Dr. Charles Walcott), Ithaca, New York, Dr. Stewart F. Taylor (Melody Brooks), Portage, Paul S. Taylor, Madison, Anne (Robert) Weber, Sun Prairie, Elizabeth (Nels) Leutwiler, Lake Bluff, Illinois; 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Barbara Ellett Taylor Scholarship fund at Beloit College, Beloit, WI 53511.
Friends may call from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, at Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage (www.pmmfh.com). A memorial service will follow the visitation at 6:30 p.m. Inurnment will be private at Silver Lake Cemetery.