Fr. Robert H. Taylor, S.J. (1917 - 2007)
Former Philosophy Professor at Loyola Marymount University
Rev. Robert H. "Cog" Taylor, S.J.
Fr. Robert H. Taylor, 89, died at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos on August 7, 2007, of an apparent heart attack. He was a Jesuit for 66 years and a priest for 55 years.
Robert Henry Taylor was born on a homestead near Stoneville, S.D. on November 9, 1917. As a teen he lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and later Des Moines. He graduated from Creighton University in 1940. Deaf from birth in his left ear, he found his path to the religious life and priesthood a bit rocky: "I had been rejected by four provincials and two bishops because of my deafness when Father Seeliger, then California Provincial, decided to take a chance on me."
He entered the novitiate at Los Gatos on September 6, 1940. Following studies in Spokane, "Cog" [for Cognition] taught sociology and philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, 1947-49, where he became known for his clear explanations of complex ideas. He began his theological training at Alma College, Los Gatos, in 1949, but transferred to St. Mary's College, Kansas, in 1951 to be closer to his family. He was ordained to the priesthood there on June 19, 1952.
Following completion of studies, Cog returned to Loyola Marymount University, where he was to spend some forty years as a philosophy professor and, for much of the time, as chair of the department.
In 1961, Cog took academic leave from the University and went to Rome, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy cum laude from the Gregorian University, with a dissertation on the British ethicist, Alfred Ewing. Returning to Loyola Marymount in 1963, he taught ethics until his retirement in 1988. During his tenure, Cog fought hard to maintain the traditional philosophy requirements in the core curriculum. Convinced of the importance of philosophy in Christian humanistic education, it pained him deeply to see the number of required courses decreased.
Following his retirement from the classroom, Cog remained at the University and devoted himself to pastoral ministry. On his own, he learned "better than adequate" Spanish, which helped him in his many pastoral assignments. Over the years Cog served in a variety of parishes as the need presented itself. He had for many years taken a summer supply call at St. Theresa's, South Lake Tahoe, and was now able to take on a longer commitment to the parish there. He also served at the Cathedral in Sacramento and in many other locations in northern and southern California, as well as St. Mary's parish in Ogden, Utah. In 2005 health problems brought him to retirement at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center.
Cog once described himself as "ideologically conservative in religious and liberal in social matters," but "not an extremist in either direction." He had a strong personality and was not afraid to speak up to defend his positions. On the occasion of his golden jubilee as a Jesuit, Fr. General Kolvenbach praised Cog for his steadfastness to Christian values, loyalty to tradition, and high educational ideals.
Cog loved to play cards and was a regular at the bridge table. He also loved to gamble. He admitted that "my main vice is that I love the casinos" and he considered himself "a professional 'counter' in blackjack." A week before his death he had spent a few days in Reno trying his luck at the tables.
Outspoken to the end, Cog left instructions regarding his funeral service: "please make it short and skip all the platitudes about any supposed virtues." It was permissible, however, to mention his "love of casinos and lack of it for Provincials." (This from a man who complained that there were no more characters in the Society.) May he rest in peace.