TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Heriot-Watt chaplain and minister who passed away due to the rare condition multiple system atrophy (MSA).
Reverend Howard Taylor died in St Andrews on February 22, aged 68. He was diagnosed with MSA in 2008.
He attended Nottingham University and graduated BSc with honours in production engineering in 1965. That same year, he went to Malawi on a volunteering mission, where he taught maths and physics at Soche Hill, Limbe near Blantyre, and at the new university.
It was there that Howard met his future wife, Eleanor Clark, who was a missionary teacher at the time. They married in 1969 while he was studying divinity at New College, Edinburgh.
After graduation and a period at St Colm’s College, they returned to Malawi in January 1971.
Howard requested that his first congregation be one where no-one spoke English, so as to make himself learn the local language, Chichewa. He succeeded and was rated one of the best expatriate speakers in the country.
In 1981, the family, now including three boys – Douglas, Keith and Ian – came back to Scotland and he was inducted to the charge of Innellan in Argyll linked with Inverchaolain and Toward. It was during this period that he commenced lecturing at what was then the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, a relationship which was to continue for the rest of his working life.
After five years in Argyll, he was inducted in 1986 to the parish of St David’s Knightswood in Glasgow.
In 1998, he completed an MTh at Aberdeen University, with a dissertation on science and religion. The same year he became chaplain at Heriot-Watt University. There he saw the Chaplaincy Centre transformed into a focal point for international students.
At Heriot-Watt, Howard taught two degree modules – moral and social philosophy along with Dr Thomas S Torrance, and the philosophy of science and religion, which in 2001 and 2002 won a $12,000 award from the Centre for Theology and the Natural Sciences at Berkeley, California.
Current Heriot-Watt chaplain Dr Alastair Donald said: “Howard was a rare combination of a first-class mind with a warm-hearted generosity of spirit and kindness in his personal dealings. He was hugely respected across Heriot-Watt University, doing much to establish the acceptance of the chaplaincy as having a valuable role in a largely science-based educational environment.”
He retired in 2008, knowing that he had begun to suffer from the disease later identified as MSA.
He and Eleanor moved to Anstruther, and during his final years he was cared for by his wife, including his final months in the St Andrews Community Hospital.
He is survived by wife Eleanor, three children and 11 grandchildren.