Robert J. Taylor, 86, Was Historian and Educator

Robert J. Taylor, 86, of Oak Bluffs died on Jan. 29 in Windemere Nursing Home after a 13-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

He was a historian who was editor in chief of the Adams Papers for the Massachusetts Historical Society from 1975 until his retirement in 1983. He was a professor of history at Tufts University from 1965 to 1975, and at Marietta College in Ohio from 1950 to 1965. He served as visiting editor of publications at the Institute of Early American History in Williamsburg, Va., from 1964 to 1965. During his career he wrote and edited several articles and books published by the Institute, including Massachusetts Colony to Commonwealth, a study of the formation of the Massachusetts constitution. His first book, Western Massachusetts in the Revolution, published by Brown University Press in 1954, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote Colonial Connecticut - A History, published by KTO Press in 1979, and edited the last seven volumes of the Susquehanna Papers, a study of 18th-century land claim disputes in what is now northeastern Pennsylvania.

From 1960 to 1962, Mr. Taylor was a Fulbright visiting professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in Japan. During this time he also taught at Tokyo University, Waseda University and at Taipei University in Taiwan.

Mr. Taylor was born and raised in Springfield, the son of Joseph and Hypatia Jane Taylor. He graduated from Classical High School in 1935, earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1939, an M.A. from Penn State University in 1941, and a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University in 1952. Her served in the infantry during World War II and was wounded in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in Germany.

Mr. Taylor retired to Oak Bluffs with his wife, after many years of visiting her family, the late Shirley and John Painter, in Vineyard Haven. He served 10 years as a mediator of the Dukes County District Court, and was an active member of the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging, where he organized a weekly Conversations group. He co-founded FOBCA, Friends of the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging, a support group that raised funds for the senior center. He also was a board member for Elder Services and delivered Meals on Wheels for many years.

Mr. Taylor leaved his wife of 62 years, Alice Jo Taylor, his granddaughter, Eve Heyman Tuminaro, and her husband, David Tuminaro all of Oak Bluffs, and a niece, Jenny (Painter) Seward of Vineyard Haven. He also leaves his three children, Joel Taylor of Bexley, Ohio, Laurel Heyman of West Newbury and Paul Taylor of Palo Alto, Calif., seven other grandchildren, a great-granddaughter, and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of one's choice. Arrangements are by the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs.