At 43, Charles H. Taylor was at a crossroads that seemed to offer an obvious choice.
He was the provost and had served as acting president at Yale University, which had been his academic home for most of the previous 25 years. Though comparatively young, he was considered a candidate to succeed Kingman Brewster Jr., Yale’s longtime president.
Rather than try to continue his academic ascent, however, Dr. Taylor chose a different path and went to study at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York to become a psychoanalyst.
“I would not wish anyone to stress frustrations in explaining this decision,” he told The Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, in early 1972. “I undertake a new career not because I don’t like what I am now doing, but because a new interest in Jung now appeals to me even more than the interests I have pursued before.”
Dr. Taylor, a scholar of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poems who served for many years on the board of The Boston Globe and its onetime parent company, Affiliated Publications, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease Sept. 25 in the Paris residence of his companion, Salomé Burckhardt. He was 84.
At Yale, from which he graduated with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees before becoming an administrator at the beginning of the 1960s, Dr. Taylor held a position that in many respects was a half step from the university’s top office.
“The provost is the chief educational officer after the president,” he told the Yale Daily News in November 1968 for a front page profile.
As an administrator, he worked with Brewster to open Yale to female students and he helped launch the university’s African-American studies program.
“The fact is that our society, our schools, our education, suffer from white racism,” Dr. Taylor told a 1968 conference organized by African-American students.
“We need this knowledge to attack not only conscious prejudice, which is easy to identify,” he added, “but to overcome unconscious discrimination, that simple lack of awareness, the ignorance from which we all suffer in white America.”
Earlier, when he finished his graduate work in the mid-1950s, Dr. Taylor left New Haven for a few years to teach English at Indiana University until he was recruited to return by John Perry Miller, then dean of Yale’s graduate school.
“I had thought about trying administration,” Dr. Taylor told the Yale Daily News. “After a few years, I decided that I hoped over time to make my contribution this way.”
Yale was not the only place where he contributed administrative talents. He was part of the Taylor family that owned the Globe for more than a century. William O. Taylor II, the fourth in the family to run the paper, sought the counsel of Dr. Taylor, who served on the Globe’s board when the company went public in 1973 and when it was sold to The New York Times Co. in 1993.
The board “had a lot of very smart men and women on it over the years, and Charlie was certainly that, but in addition to being smart, he was also very wise, which is something a little different,” said Timothy Leland, a former vice president of Affiliated Publications.
“He was a very good strategical thinker when it came to analyzing business opportunities, but as a psychologist, he brought another dimension to the board’s discussions, a personal touch,” Leland said. “He was always thinking about the Globe’s staff on a personal level, how to care for the staff and motivate them. Charlie didn’t talk a lot at board meetings, but everyone listened very closely to him when he had something to say. Bill Taylor depended on his points of view a lot.”
Dr. Taylor was the middle child of Charles H. Taylor, who was the Globe’s treasurer, and the former Rosamond Stewardson.
He grew up in Brookline and rode his bicycle to Milton Academy until he was a boarding student.
Dr. Taylor married Diana Burgess, with whom he had four children, in June 1950. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1978.
Subsequently, he married Patricia Finley, with whom he wrote the 1997 book “Images of the Journey in Dante’s Divine Comedy.” They divorced in 2007.
From Yale, Dr. Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in 1950, a master’s in 1953, and a doctorate in 1955, all in English. His doctoral work on Shelley led to his 1958 book, “The Early Collected Editions of Shelley’s Poems: A Study in the History and Transmission.”
In the 1968 interview with the Yale Daily News, he called his decision to attend Yale a “minor protest” because so many Taylors had attended Harvard.
“I think my father wanted to branch out on his own,” said his son Stephen of South Dartmouth, a former Globe executive vice president who has taught at the Yale School of Management. “He was very much a black sheep.”
That also could be said of Dr. Taylor’s decision not to enter the family business full time, although his administrative experience was welcomed on the Globe’s board and his business acumen was tapped when was a consultant for the paper.
Dr. Taylor also offered his expertise to Hampshire College in Amherst, where he was a board member, and to the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism in New York City.
On different occasions he helped put the archive on more stable financial footing, and through fund-raising and securing grants he assisted in its expansion into a national organization with multiple locations.
“He was so unassuming,” said Ami Ronnberg, the archive’s curator. “He never had any need to be out in the front and famous, I don’t think. He was a very serving person. When there was a need, he helped.”
On Hampshire’s board, “he was both extremely smart and strategic, and also very sympathetic. I guess compassionate is the word,” said Adele Simmons, a former Hampshire president who served with Dr. Taylor on the Globe’s board. “He really took time to understand Hampshire and to bring to our work and our thinking really thoughtful ideas based on his experience as an educator.”
In addition to his son and Burckhardt, Dr. Taylor leaves two daughters, Dr. Beth Taylor Cohen of Portola Valley, Calif., and Nell Stuart of Cambridge, England; another son, Chuck Taylor of Stockton, N.J.; two sisters, Rarie Dye of Charlemont and Pam Taylor Wetzels of Austin, Texas; and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 in Dwight Chapel at Yale University in New Haven.
To his Jungian training and his longtime psychoanalytic practice in Connecticut, Dr. Taylor “brought his academic skills and analytic knowledge . . . while adding a deeper knowledge of the symbolic and the archetypal dimensions of dealing with the unconscious,” said Thayer Greene of Amherst, a friend and a Jungian analyst.
As an English scholar turned administrator turned psychoanalyst, Dr. Taylor “was a multifaceted person,” his son Stephen said, “in some ways almost like the image of a kaleidoscope.”
Dr. Taylor “very much enjoyed the life of the mind,” his son said, and yet, Simmons added, “he didn’t impose his ideas. You had a sense he was sharing his ideas and in no way saying, ‘Think the way I do.’ Instead, it was: ‘Let’s explore this.’ He liked exploring ideas.”
Bryan Marquard can be reached at email@example.com.