John J. Taylor, 91, former executive at the Electric Power Research Institute and Westinghouse and nuclear energy expert died on December 9, 2013, at his residence at the Vi in Palo Alto, California. Mr. Taylor was an early pioneer in the development of nuclear power for naval ships and civilian electricity production and more recently in the design of a newer generation of nuclear power plants.
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Mr. Taylor began his career in nuclear energy at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, PA shortly after the end of World War II, during which he served in the Pacific as a naval officer on the destroyer escort USS Carlson. At Westinghouse, a major producer of nuclear reactors, he played a key role in the design of the reactor for the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus launched in 1954, with responsibility for designing and testing the radiation shields to protect the crew. He also contributed to the design of the reactor for the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise. He then shifted his focus to the use of nuclear power for civilian electricity production beginning with the first U.S. nuclear-powered electric generating station in Shippingport, PA and continuing with his service as chief executive of Westinghouse's nuclear power division with responsibility for the company's worldwide commercial nuclear power business.
After more than 3 decades at Westinghouse he moved from Pittsburgh to Palo Alto in 1981 to lead the nuclear power division of the newly created Electric Power Research Institute where he galvanized support for a new generation of more compact nuclear power plants using probabilistic risk assessment.
Mr. Taylor won many awards for his leadership and contributions to nuclear power, including his elections as a fellow of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Nuclear Society. He served on advisory committees on nuclear power plant safety and on the risk of nuclear weapon proliferation, authoring the 1998 report "Disposing of Weapons-Grade Plutonium" along with Senators Pete Domenici and Lindsay Graham. He testified on nuclear energy issues at the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
He was born on February 27, 1922 in Hackensack, New Jersey. He attended high school at St. Augustine High School in Brooklyn, college at St John's College also then in Brooklyn, and graduate school at the University of Notre Dame.
His wife of 67 years, Lorraine C. Taylor, died in 2010. His survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, John B. and Allyn Taylor of Stanford, his daughter and son-in-law Nancy T. and Paul Gray of Wayne, PA, his daughter and son-in-law Susan and Paul DeMuro of San Francisco; his granddaughter and grandson-in-law, Jennifer and Josh Salcman of Walnut Creek, his grandson, John A. Taylor of Oakland, his granddaughters Melissa, Natalie, and Alanna DeMuro of San Francisco, and Taylor Lin Gray of Wayne, PA; and his great-grandchildren, Olivia and Andrew Salcman of Walnut Creek.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Denis Catholic Church, 2250 Avy Avenue, Menlo Park on December 13, 2013 at 10:30 am. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the
or to the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 13, 2013