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Obituary: Weldon J. Taylor

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Weldon Johnson Taylor passed away at his home in Provo, Utah at the age of 92 on Monday, August 21, 2000. As a well known business educator and educational administrator, his long life was one of great service, contribution, and example.

Born on June 30, 1908 in Provo, Weldon spent his early years just west of Provo in Lakeview on what is now the Cherry Hill Farm homestead, first established by his grandparents, William Joseph Taylor and Abbey Scott Taylor, in 1904. His parents were William Weldon Taylor and Nora Johnson Taylor. He was the oldest of seven children.

A life-long study of management began in 1929 when he attended a presentation given by John R. Patterson, CEO of National Cash Register, Inc., Dayton, Ohio. Patterson had drawn an inverted organization chart showing his (the CEO) position at the bottom and the organizational hierarchy in ascending levels, so that the clerical employees were on top. Thereafter, as implied by Patterson's chart, ascribing dignity to all members of an organization was the central theme of Weldon's management philosophy. This empowering philosophy, empirically demonstrated in his mind to make organizations more effective, was congruent with his Christian beliefs, and was a source of strength to him throughout his life.

Weldon graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU) in 1934. While at BYU, mentored by Earl T. Pardoe, he excelled at debate and was once on the winning side of a debate against future United States President Richard M. Nixon of Whittier College. He served as a statistician for the Federal Power Commission in Washington, D.C. through 1935 where data he submitted was used by Congress to enact Utilities Holding Company legislation. He obtained a degree from the Harvard Business School in 1937.

In 1938 he accepted a teaching position at Brigham Young University and was called to be Bishop of the Lakeview LDS Ward. In 1942 he married Gayle DeWitt, of Mesa, AZ, in the LDS Church Salt Lake Temple. During World War II he worked for the Office of Price Administration. He resumed his teaching duties at BYU after the war. He spent three summers teaching at the University of South Dakota.

Weldon obtained a Ph.D. in Marketing from New York University (NYU) in 1952. At NYU he developed friendships which were later to influence his career, including Peter Drucker and George Gallup. He returned to BYU in 1952. The six years from 1952 through 1958 were prime teaching years. During this period his students won numerous awards from the New York City Market Research Counsel.

Notwithstanding a simultaneous offer of a full professorship received from NYU in 1958, Weldon accepted a position of Dean of BYU's College of Business, a position which he occupied for 17 years until his retirement in 1975. With co-author Roy Shaw, of the University of Utah, he published Marketing: An Analytical Approach, a marketing textbook used widely by colleges and universities throughout the United States for a number of years. In 1963 he took a year's sabbatical leave from BYU to join the Ford Foundation where he worked with the National Institute of Management Development, in Cairo, Egypt.

During his tenure as Dean at BYU, a now nationally high ranked MBA program was commenced, and a National Advisory Counsel was organized. He made building the BYU business school's Department of Organizational Behavior a top priority. The department achieved national recognition when professors such as Stephen R. Covey, Gene Dalton and Paul Thompson joined the school.

Post BYU retirement in 1975, Weldon was instrumental in the creation of the Provo River Trail (for which he was given a presidential award in Washington by President Ronald Reagan). He coordinated the establishment of an MBA program at Westminster College in Salt Lake City (a lecture series bearing his name continues to bring top speakers to the college). In 1989 he was presented the coveted BYU Presidential Citation Award, by BYU President, Rex Lee. He also served as head of a committee responsible for the reorganization of Provo City government to a City Manager system and was the recipient of several community awards.

Throughout his life he was an active member of the LDS church. In addition to serving a mission and as a Bishop, he fulfilled numerous other church callings.

Five days before his passing, Weldon played nine holes of golf. Two days before his passing, at his wife Gayle's birthday party, he kissed her hand and said, "Happy Birthday, I love you."

He is survived by his wife Gayle, sons Stephen and Dee, their spouses, Margaret and Shana respectively, seven grandchildren.

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2000 at 11 a.m. at the Oak Hills Fourth Ward Chapel located at 925 East North Temple Drive in Provo, Utah. A viewing will be held at that location, from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. prior to the funeral. On Friday, August 25, 2000 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. a viewing is scheduled at the Berg Mortuary, 185 East Center Street, Provo, Utah. Interment Provo City Cemetery.