Dr. Steven Taylor, the former editor of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, passed away this November. For those of you in the community of scholars and practitioners whose work is devoted to IDD, Steven requires no introduction.
There is insufficient space here for an exhaustive biography of his accomplishments. Steven is most often described as a “pioneer” and “leader” in our field, one of those key filaments connecting the different parts of our community. He was the Director of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University for over three decades, an internationally recognized scholar, disability advocate, community living innovator, pioneer in establishing disability studies in higher education, and of course, the editor of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from 1993 to 2011. Most importantly, he was a son, sibling, husband, father, and grandfather.
The many anecdotes exchanged by friends and colleagues reveal what made the man unique: gentlemanly yet forceful, in possession of enormous intellectual power and yet without a trace of arrogance, quiet yet transformative. Of all the impressive accomplishments—and there are many—the stories about the small acts of kindness to those of us throughout the IDD field are the ones that resonate most with me. He once said that the most fulfilling part of his editorship was working with young authors, helping shape their work. I was once one of those young authors. Pained by a reviewer's critique, I wrote what Steven described to me as history's longest rebuttal letter. His gentle counsel to relax and to learn from the commentary has served me well over the years. The reviewer's critique is long forgotten, but I will always remember the thoughtfulness and wisdom of the editor. As he was for so many in the IDD community, Steven was an unknowing mentor of mine.
A legacy is not a “thing” but thousands of encounters and effects, some big, most small. As the Buddhist saying goes—“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle....”
Dr. Taylor burned brightly.