Professor of Physics at Morgan State University for 37 years, Avid Golfer for life.
Dr. Julius Henry Taylor, affectionately called “Jute”, a long-time resident of Baltimore, Maryland, died peacefully in his sleep on August 27 of natural causes. The Windsor Hills resident was 97.
Dr. Taylor was respected by the hundreds of physics students he taught during his 37-year tenure at Morgan State University, as well as his colleagues across the country. Often referred to by his students as “Doc” Taylor, or “Prof” Taylor, he was known for an engaging smile, quick wit, and helping hand.
Physicist Julius Henry Taylor was born on February 15, 1914 in Cape May, New Jersey to Julia and Coleman Taylor. He was one of six children including Morris, Margaret, Coleman, Elizabeth, and Mildred. He attended Middle Township High School in Cape May Court House, New Jersey where he played basketball, pole-vaulted, and played trumpet in the band, and where he met his wife to be, Patricia Spaulding. Dr. Taylor often told the story about thinking that he “had it made in South Jersey with a high school diploma, a pretty woman by his side, a car, and a trumpet in his hand”. But Patricia insisted that he go to college and get a degree in order to marry her. Although he had arrived at Lincoln with only $50 in savings, he managed to pay for his college tuition by continuing to play the trumpet at night. In 1938, Taylor earned his A.B. degree in chemistry from Lincoln University, PA. They were together for 60 years until her death in 1997. After his graduation from Lincoln, he thought he would be teaching high school science and believed he could get a better position if he could teach physics in addition to chemistry. So he enrolled for several physics courses at the University of Pennsylvania where he was encouraged by the Penn faculty to continue his graduate education in physics. Subsequently, he went on to receive his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in solid state physics there. He was the second African-American to receive a Ph.D. from that institution, and one of the first African-Americans in the nation to receive a Ph.D. in physics. Dr. Taylor was a Rosenwald Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the 1940s, Taylor published scholarly papers under contract with the U.S. Navy. In 1945, he became chairman of the Department of Physics at West Virginia State College. Four years later, he joined the faculty at Morgan State University at the insistence of then-president Dr. Martin David Jenkins who wanted to establish a physics department at Morgan. Dr. Taylor began building the physics department and became its first chairperson in 1954 after earning tenure as a professor. During his years at Morgan, Taylor mentored several students who went on to earn their Ph.D.s in physics, an accomplishment that Dr. Taylor was extremely proud of. In 1955, Taylor served as an editor for The Negro In Science, a book addressing prominent African American scientists and their research. During his time at Morgan, Dr. Taylor served as a liaison to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Science Foundation, along with several other scientific societies and committees. He established dual-degree programs in engineering through cooperative arrangements with engineering schools at New York University, Cornell University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology. He also lectured at American University before his retirement in 1986, when he became professor emeritus at Morgan State. He taught on a part-time basis until 1999 continuing to participate in NASA-funded research at Morgan.. After his retirement, Taylor continued to mentor students in junior and senior high schools in the Baltimore Public School System, nurturing, encouraging and influencing minority students to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences.
Throughout his career, he presented papers at professional meetings and published widely in journals in his field, including Physics Today, The American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher and the American Physical Society. He contributed over 20 articles to an edition of the Grolier International Encyclopedia.
Dr. Taylor was the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate degrees in Science from Grambling State University and from Lincoln University, PA. In 1963, he was named Alumnus of the Year by Lincoln University, PA and in 1976 he received a Distinguished Service Citation from the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has been a member and president of the executive committee of the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers as well as a section representative. Dr. Taylor maintained a steady flow of scholarly research publications on x-ray diffusion, resistance of Germanium, electrical and optical properties of semi-conductors and other critical areas of science.
In addition to Dr. Taylor’s academic achievements, he was an avid golfer up until age 95. His daughter, Trena, remembers a time when she was living in Atlanta and asked her AT&T manager, Larry Bell, to play golf with her dad at his club while he was in town visiting. Larry said, “Trena neglected to tell me he was in his 80s and I thought I’d be winning all day for sure. But Jute played all afternoon with a MCI-logo ball to irritate me and then knocked in a putt on #18 for an 82 score and beat me.” Dr. Taylor was such a good senior player that golfers at the Forest Park Golf Course where he frequented, did not want to be paired with him as they didn’t want to get beaten by someone in their 80s. He was the first coach for the Morgan State College golf team. That team went on to win the CIAA Championship under his leadership. One of the original team members who is now a professional golfer, Rodney “Binx” Watts wrote, “As my golf coach at Morgan, Doc holds a special place in my heart and in the hearts of all the young minds he touched.” As a result of his playing and coaching careers, Dr. Taylor was inducted into the African-American Golf Hall of Fame.
One of Dr. Taylor’s favorite sayings was, ”You don’t know how to live until you know how to give. Be blessed to give. Be blessed to receive.” He served on the board of the Maryland Academy of Sciences, and chaired the Academy’s Scientific Council during the period that a new science center, located in the Baltimore Inner Harbor, was planned and constructed. In 1975, he was appointed as Commissioner of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission; he also served on the Governor’s Science Advisory Council. He volunteered for numerous organizations, including serving as President of the Traveler’s Aid Society of Central Maryland.
Dr. Taylor has been a member of Grace Presbyterian Church since his arrival in Baltimore. As recently as last month at the age of 97, he drove himself to church and back once a month.
He was also a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Wes Hairston, a Windsor Hills neighbor of Dr. Taylor, said of him, “He left us with the grace, class and dignity with which he lived his life”.
Dr. Taylor is survived by his two children, Dwight S. Taylor of Pikesville and Trena Taylor Brown of Baltimore, daughter-in-law Aileen Taylor, grandchild Jason Spaulding Taylor and his wife Katherine Boyle Taylor, and two great-grandchildren, Julius Henry Taylor, and Quinn Spaulding Taylor, his long-time friend, Jackie Lewis, and his “angel” Marsha Hairston. He has a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends.
It was Dr. Taylor’s wish to donate his body to science. A memorial service will be held October 22 at Morgan State University at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the Morgan State University Foundation, for the Dr. Julius Henry Taylor Scholarship Fund. Checks should be made payable to the Foundation, specifying the scholarship fund on the memo line. Mail to Morgan State University Foundation, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane, 201 Truth Hall, Baltimore, Md. 21251.