In Memory

Craig E. Taylor VIEW PROFILE

Craig E. Taylor


Craig E. Taylor, 68, of Torrance, California passed away on May 31, 2014 after a short illness. A brilliant, kind, and generous man, Craig was equally at home in the worlds of mathematics and philosophy, balancing a career spent in risk analysis with time spent reading and discussing poetry, politics, and history. Born in New York City on September 20, 1945, to Calvin Walker Taylor and Dorothy Cope Taylor, Craig grew up in several states but graduated from high school in Salt Lake City, where he played baseball and basketball and began an intellectual search that would not end until a few days before he died. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1967 and earned a doctoral degree in philosophy in 1974 from the University of Illinois, Urbana, studying under his revered mentor, Fred Will. A gifted mathematician, Craig took what he had gained from studying philosophy and applied his insights to risk analysis, with a focus on seismic risk. In California he worked for the J.H.Wiggins Company, Dames & Moore (URS), and as a private consultant. He was also a research professor at USC and relished the opportunity he had to teach at Tongji University in Shanghai in 2012. Craig was very proud of his work with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), where he served as chair of the Council on Disaster Risk Management from 2005 until 2008. Craig married Barbara Benzley in 1964 and had two daughters. After a divorce he married Gayle Nelson in 1978. Craig and Gayle had two children and a most happy marriage, full of walks on the beach, dinners in Riviera Village, travel, and, most importantly, lots of interesting conversation. He loved being with his children and grandchildren, who called him B.D. (short for "Big Dad." Weekends were spent shooting baskets on the make-shift court in the family driveway, playing games of charades or cards, or inviting friends over for dinner and discussion on topics ranging from sports to film. Although Craig and Gayle traveled to Europe and Asia several times, nothing was more treasured than a family vacation to nearby Catalina Island, a place that reflected all that Craig loved about the beauty of Southern California. Craig's parents preceded him in death. His survivors include his wife, Gayle, his daughters Romy Taylor (Slava Petuhov), Melissa Taylor Dresler, Catherine Taylor (Galway O'Mahony), and his son, Adam Taylor (Abby Horn). He also leaves four grandchildren, Julia, Max, Madison, and Logan, whom he loved very much. He is survived by his brother, Stephen Taylor, and sister, Nancy Taylor, and several nephews and nieces. A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, July 12, at 10:00 a.m. at the South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard, Palos Verdes Peninsula. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. His ashes will be scattered off Catalina Island, so that when friends and family view the island from the Palos Verdes Peninsula they will remember this remarkable man. - See more at:

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

07/22/14 08:56 PM #1    

Ronald Scott

At our 50th class reunion a year ago (2013), Craig Taylor seemed to stand taller than he had 50 years ago when I was trying to deal, usually unsuccessfully, with his incredible speed and quickness on the basketball court.  Better that he was playing with you, than against.  So, there he stood at Bonneville Golf Course, floppy hat and long pants on a very hot and sunny  day, predictably looking a heckuva lot healthier and more fit than most of us.  At any second I suspected he would lay on a head juke and drive for the hoop.   

Truth is, I never found the time, took time to say much more than the prefunctories (yes, I know it’s not a word, but you know the definition I intend):   “hello,” and “glad you could make it,” and “still thin after all these years.”  Although, having read his biography, I was very pleased he’d found the time for us.  I would like to have spent more time with him. I recalled that he always found the time, made the time to be helpful, to empathize and, most of all, to laugh.

When he was one of five juniors to survive a particularly merciless late Fall basketball tryout that seemed  deliberately stacked in favor of sophomores headed for Skyline the following year,  Craig was the first to empathize with other juniors who, under more normal circumstances, might have made the team and gotten the coaching they needed to play varsity ball year later. 

Truth is, I was certain then that Craig was Coach Ken Farrell’s favorite because he could have taught Farrell’s dumbbell Algebra classes better than the coach could.  Over lunch one day I remember him   helping another pretty bright young man unravel the mysteries of a Trigonometry problem.  It made my head ache just to listen to his coaching.   Who knew last August that Craig would be leaving us before another year rolled around.  Some things just don’t add up.

10/29/15 05:26 PM #2    

Ronald Scott


Craig Elliott Taylor, a Leader in Earthquake Engineering and Risk Assessment, Dies at Age 68

June 10, 2014

Craig Elliott Taylor, Ph.D., Aff.M.ASCE, who left an impressive legacy in promoting new methods and ideas in multihazard disaster risk management, passed away in May at the age of 68. Taylor was deeply involved in risk reduction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and improving catastrophe (CAT) risk modeling for the insurance industry, and helped carve out a new direction in CAT modeling, one which strived for more comprehensive simulation of risk and uncertainty. Recently, he developed a series of methods and indices known collectively as “Robust Simulation” to characterize uncertainty in CAT modeling estimates for identifying extreme risks. Born September 20, 1945, Taylor received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Utah and both his master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy (logical theory) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Following graduation, he worked for several consulting companies, including J.H. Wiggins Company, Dames & Moore (now part of URS Corp.), EQE (now CoreLogic), Baseline Management Co., and Image Cat, Inc., as well as starting his own company, Natural Hazards Management, Inc. Academically, he was an adjunct research professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where his research interests included earthquake engineering and risk assessment, and was a visiting professor at Tongji University, in Shanghai City, China. Working in various capacities, Taylor is probably best known for promulgating the notion of “systems-based” solutions to complex problems and often shared ideas with others in his extensive professional society work. A founding member of ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management (CDRM), he chaired the CDRM’s executive committee from 2005 to 2007 and later served on its Awards Committee, Editorial Committee, and Board of Advisors. A long-time editor for CDRM’s Natural Hazards Review, as well as editor and author of several CDRM monographs and papers, Taylor inspired countless colleagues to write about topics ranging from risk and vulnerability and risk-informed decision making, to advances in information technology for analyses and risk communication. With ASCE, Taylor was also a member of the Wenchuan Earthquake Investigation Team, the Task Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction, the Committee on Earthquake Actuated Automatic Gas Shutoff Devices, and moderator and co-chair of the session at Earth & Space 2006: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments. A recognized leader with ASCE’s Technical Council on Lifeline Earthquake Engineering (TCLEE), he received the TCLEE Lifetime Contribution Award in 2006, and a Certificate of Appreciation for service as chair of ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management in 2008. Taylor was also corecipient of the Applied Technology Council (ATC) Award for Excellence. At the time of his passing, Taylor was coorganizing the ICVRAM (International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management) minisymposium entitled East-West Contributions on Risk Management for Floods, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, and other Natural Hazards, to facilitate an international exchange on policy implications relating to natural hazard risks. This 2014 minisymposium, held in Liverpool, United Kingdom, is dedicated in honor of Taylor

- See more at:

10/29/15 06:37 PM #3    

Christopher Blakesley

Wonderful tribute for a fine man. I just noticed that Craig was born in Torrance, California. So was I. I have an uncomfortable memory regarding Craig. At one of his birthday parties when we were very young, we played baseball. Craig had received a new bat for his birthday. Disastrously, I broke the bat when he let me use it in the game. Ugh! I was devastated. Craig and his family were extremely gracious, of course.

And so it goes.

Rest in Peace, Craig!


10/30/15 12:02 PM #4    

Carol Nakamura (Iwasaki)

Craig was one of our classmates I always admired, and will remember forever.  He was so smart, kind, humble, kind of shy, and just a very good person.  I always knew he would be successful in life, and had a lot to contribute to humanity; however, after reading his obituary and tribute on our site, I was totally taken aback ---  he accomplished so much more than I could have ever imagined.  It seems to me he was deserving of a Pulitzer Prize!  I thought I knew Craig, but I must have been in my own little world in high school -- didn't know how much he was involved in sports. His interests were so balanced and well-rounded!   That's how we all should live!!!   I am so sad to hear of his passing, but am grateful for his life and example to me.  Thank you Craig, may you rest in peace.

go to top 
  Post Comment


Click here to see Craig E.'s last Profile entry.