Donald James Taylor
Born in Dayton, Ohio on March 6, 1933, Don Taylor committed his life to learning and teaching.
Don was an alumnus of the California Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin and eventually the University of Arizona where his love of Physics and Astronomy led him to be part of a team of three who in 1969 discovered a pulsar in the Crab Nebula.
In 1971 Don became a professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where he would go on to teach over 8000 students during his career. As an influential and pioneering member of the UNL Astronomy Department, Don helped to develop specifications for the 30-inch reflecting telescope that was installed at the Behlen Observatory in 1972, and later oversaw installation of the solar-viewing Minnich Telescope. He also secured funding for the Student Observatory that sits atop the Memorial Stadium Garage.
Don’s passion for the skies was undeniable, and for decades, he was a neighborhood fixture, searching the night sky with homemade telescopes and inviting anyone interested to join him. To have darker skies in the city, he invented a tool, essentially a light bulb on a pole, to trick the street lights to shut off. It brought Don great pride and joy to share a view of the majestic rings of Saturn or a pristine image of the craters of the moon through one of his telescopes.
Don’s other hobbies included tennis and table tennis, both of which he played in many leagues. He was a longtime member of the Woods tennis community in Lincoln.
Tennis led him to his loving wife, Mary, who was by his side, both on and off the court for much of his life. Don died peacefully, with Mary by his side on May 28th, 2020.
Don was a loving, committed and generous husband, father and step-father. Don’s survivors include sons Brook Taylor (Elizabeth) and Glenn Taylor, step daughters Philippa Stasiuk (David) and Sophie Damaso (John), grandchildren Rowan, Nikola, Iris, Jane, Gia and a grandson due in July.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Wachiska Audubon Society. 4547 Calvert Street, Lincoln, NE 68506 https://www.wachiskaaudubon.org/copy-of-officers-comittees
No service at this time.
Condolences may be placed using the form below.
Funeral Home assisting is Aspen Mortuary, 4822 Cleveland Avenue, Lincoln, NE 68504. To view an on-line obituary or email condolences please visit Aspen Mortuary’s website at www.aspenaftercare.com.
Condolences for Donald James Taylor
Sophie and John,
May your Step-dad rest in peace. We enjoyed visiting with him during the week of your wedding.
Bless you all.
Aunt Bev and Uncle Cam
As Electronic Shop Supervisor at UNL Physics for many years I had the pleasure of working with Don on numerous projects. He was very good with electronics and we enjoyed conversations on numerous topics in trips to the Behlen Observatory. My sincere condolences.
A truly interesting and kind person and a great teacher.
Dearest Mary and family of Don, We have blessed and amazing memories of being with you and Don and with Don during the excitement of the pulsar discovery. We loved being with you both whenever we met and your hospitality was awesome. We are VERY sad over Don’s passing. May you know our gratitude to you both.
Dear Mary… We have very fond memories of our friendship with you and Don while we were neighbors in Bend, Oregon. He was a tennis, table tennis, and golf “buddy.” Good conversations, using his homemade telescope scanning the sky in your backyard, and sharing a homemade meal. Thanks so much! Our sincere condolences.
Very sorry to learn of your passing. I was the one to get you to Nebraska. It was a great move you had done a lot for the Department. Your students remember your good teaching