Long-time professor ‘played so many roles’

Lindsay Kriz

Corey Alderdice, now the assistant director for admissions and public relations at Gatton Academy, met English professor Patricia “Pat” Taylor when he was an undergraduate student at WKU.

Alderdice took as many of Taylor’s classes as he could and decided to study abroad with Taylor in Cambridge, England, during the fall of 2002.

“In many ways I almost majored in Pat Taylor,” he said.

When Alderdice learned that Taylor had died from a heart attack on Saturday, he was compelled to write a post about his former professor on his blog.

Alderdice said he took 27 hours worth of classes with Taylor, which included all of her available classes except for one.

“I benefited tremendously from her wealth of knowledge of literature and drama,” he said. “In many ways her lecturing was a play unto itself, and she used that stage to the fullest.”

Alderdice said his favorite memories with Taylor came from his study abroad trip — in particular a wedding that his group attended in Europe along with Taylor’s husband, Craig Taylor, a sociology professor at WKU.

“She and her husband, Craig, were dancing, with her trademark red hair and jewelry and his tuxedo,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘This is them.’ They were the focus on the dance floor.”

Catherine Altmaier, a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State, is another former student of Taylor’s. Altmaier remembers Taylor as a caring yet professional professor.

Altmaier also studied abroad with Taylor and took every class she could with her once she returned to WKU.

Altmaier said Taylor had a fiery personality and always dressed differently than one would expect a professor to dress.

“She was loud and funny — a wonderful combo,” she said.

Taylor expected a lot from her students but also knew the students on a personal level, Altmaier said.

“The line between eccentricities and educational excellence is Pat,” she said.

Altmaier said she will always remember Taylor for her compassion.

During Altmaier’s sophomore year, her father unexpectedly died, and she emailed every professor to tell them the situation.

“They all expressed sympathy, of course,” she said. “But Pat had my personal info and called me. She expressed great remorse and was thoroughly and honestly concerned.”

English professor Mary Ellen Miller said everything about Taylor stood out.

“She was a fabulous person in every category,” she said.

Miller said Taylor taught at WKU for more than 40 years after receiving her doctorate from Southern Illinois University.

Taylor was also an actress and was recently in the campus production of “Death of a Salesman,” Miller said.

“She played so many roles,” she said. “She was a superb actress — very outgoing and vivacious.”

Miller said she had planned to visit Taylor at the hospital Saturday and had talked to her on the phone on Friday.

“She sounded wonderful,” she said. “She had no idea something was wrong.”

Miller said she called Taylor’s husband on Saturday and learned that she had died early that morning.

Taylor’s visitation and memorial service will be at Hardy and Son Funeral Home from 1-4 p.m. Sunday — the same day as what would have been Taylor’s 74th birthday, English Department Head Karen Schneider said.

Schneider has already chosen professors to finish teaching Taylor’s classes.