AMHERST - Dr. Robert E. Taylor, 93, died Feb. 27, 2013, in Northampton. He was born Nov. 22, 1919, in Portland, Ore.,
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to the late Dolph and Lula May (Nicholas) Taylor.
Having fallen in love with Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables as a teenager, he determined to master French, earning his bachelor's of arts from Reed College in 1943 and his master's degree and doctorate from Columbia University in 1951, specializing in 18th-century literature.
In between, he served in World War II as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps, stationed in the South Pacific.
He was an instructor at Columbia before becoming associate professor at New York University, then came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst as full professor and head of the then department of Romance Languages in 1963. Here he was able to build up the future department of French and Italian.
He and his second wife Olga tried to create a congenial professional atmosphere by hosting elegant French dinner parties at their home for both local and visiting scholars.
In 1967 Dr. Taylor was awarded a knighthood in the French Government's Order of the Academic Palms for services rendered
to French culture. He retired in 1989.
He was predeceased by his parents, his first wife Naomi Ellen (Klatt) and their son Thomas Robert.
He leaves his second wife, Olga (Zazuliak) and their daughter, Anne-Marie Taylor.
He wished for no ceremony.
New England Funeral & Cremation Center, LLC 25 Mill St., Springfield, MA has been entrusted with the final arrangements.
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on March 14, 2013