School 14

Estelle W. Taylor

May 3, 2020



Dr. Estelle Wormley Taylor transitioned peacefully on Sunday, May 3, 2020.  A native Washingtonian, born and reared in the far northeast section of the District of Columbia known as Deanwood.   An alumna of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where she was inducted in the National Honor Society, she subsequently enrolled in Minor Teachers College where she earned the Bachelor of Science degree in English, magna cum laude in 1945.  At Howard University, she received the Master of Arts degree in English literature in 1947, and the Ph.D. degree in Renaissance English literature, with a dissertation on William Shakespeare, from the Catholic University of America in 1969.  She was the first African-American woman to be awarded the Ph.D. degree in this field from Catholic University

Dr. Taylor’s range of experience in teaching extended from beginning her career as an instructor of English and the humanities at Howard University to serving as a teacher of English at Langley Junior High School and at Eastern Senior High School.  Dr. Taylor was a teacher of English and an administrator at two of the predecessor institutions of the University of the District of Columbia.  At the District of Columbia Teachers College, she rose through the ranks from instructor to professor of English; and just prior to being appointed Professor of English and the first woman chairman of the Department of English at Howard University in 1976, she held the position of Associate Provost at the Federal City College and of Acting Academic Dean at the District of Columbia Teachers College.  At Howard University, Dr. Taylor served as chairman of the Department of English from 1976 to 1985, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1985 to 1986, and Director of the Graduate Expository Writing Program from 1988 to 1991, when she retired from the University.

Among the honors and awards received by Dr. Taylor are the Southern Fellowships Foundation Award; Outstanding Teacher of America Award; Administrative Leadership Citation, Board of Higher Education of the District of Columbia (Public Resolution No. 76-3, 1976); the Kappa Delta Pi, Theta Alpha Chapter, Award for Outstanding Leadership and Contribution to Excellence in Education; Outstanding Teacher in the College of Liberal Arts Award, Howard University; the Aspen Institute/Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship; the 1995 “Outstanding Women in the Academy Award,” Department of English, Howard University; the 1995 National Association for Equal Opportunity Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award; the Distinguished Service Certificate and Plaque, Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association; and the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Howard University). 

An active participant in a number of professional and service organizations, Dr. Taylor was a Diamond Life Member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; a charter member of the Capital City Chapter of the Links; the Friends of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel (Howard University); a life member of the College Language Association; the NAACP; the National Council of Negro Women; the Modern Language Association of America; and a member of the Public Members Association of the Foreign Service, the U. S. Department of State; and the Aspen Institute Alumni Association.

Dr. Taylor was married to the late Dr. Ivan Earle Taylor, an alumnus of Howard University and Professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of English at Howard University.  She is survived by a niece, Karen; a nephew, Barry; a great-niece, Jennifer; two great-nephews, Christopher and Michael; her friend of over seventy years, Mrs. Emma Lewis; her goddaughters, Enid, Sally, and Tanya; her devoted godsons, John and Paul; as well as countess former students, colleagues, and friends.

There will be a private interment on May 14, 2020, and a memorial service on January 12, 2021.


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Private Committal

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