Lt. Col. Kenneth Marvis Taggart, Ph.D., professor emeritus of modern languages and literatures at Trinity University, died on March 2. He was 85. Ken served the University for 40 years before retiring in 2006.
Ken was born in Portland, Oregon, on August 14, 1937. Even though his first eight years were spent in Oregon, the Taggart family returned to their home state of South Dakota, which Ken came to love—particularly the West River Country, the part of the state that lies west of the Missouri River. He identified with the stalwart courage and pioneer spirit of its people, still in evidence today among South Dakotans. He memorialized some of the people and places of his youth in stories and poems.
Ken earned a doctorate in Spanish and French from the University of Puerto Rico. During a 40-year career of teaching Spanish and French language and literature at Trinity University, his love of teaching and desire to foster growth in young people never waned. He published several books in Spanish.
For more than a decade, Ken led Trinity student groups to Mexico for an intense immersion experience into the language, customs, and history of the Mexican people. This was a keystone experience for many Trinity students in their academic preparation. One hallmark of these study trips was Ken's insistence that the students mix with the Mexican populace. He wanted his students to use public transportation instead of isolating themselves in taxis, refrain from frequenting English-speaking establishments and posh shopping venues, and take every opportunity to enhance their language fluency. Ken encouraged his students to strive to acquire a deeper understanding of the people of Mexico, their philosophy, their joyful celebrations of life and death, and the challenges they face in this ancient land of theirs that has produced five major civilizations over the span of three millennia.
Concurrent with his academic career, Ken completed a military career in the U.S. Army that spanned 40 years. He received numerous awards and recognitions and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1997. From 1997–2002, Ken provided professional translation support to Fifth U.S. Army Headquarters. From 2008–2019, he served on the Board of Trustees of the Baumberger Endowment, which provides scholarship funds for Bexar County college-bound youths.
Ken and his wife Doris were long-time members of St. John's Lutheran Church in San Antonio. He taught Sunday School, served on the church council, was instrumental in creating and directing a scholarship program for college-bound students, and, for many years, led a biblical topics study group. In 2007, Ken was chosen KING GALLO and represented St. John's at an annual Fiesta-sponsored event. Before his health issues emerged, he was an avid runner and cyclist, played racquetball with Trinity colleagues, and enjoyed frequent Hill Country Volksmarches with Doris.
Ken was preceded in death by his father and mother, Homer George Taggart Jr. and Olive Hogen Taggart; brothers Homer George Taggart III and Lowell Swisher; sister Marieta Matos; uncle Marvis Hogen; aunts Lucille Olson and Edith Hogen; brothers-in-law Paul Brue and Bill Matos; and stepdaughter Lisa Warren.
Ken shared his life with two loving spouses: Nenetzín Ramirez Taggart and Doris Mayer-Warren Taggart. He is survived by Doris and his two children, Kevin Taggart and Melinda Kline; brother Thomas Taggart; sisters Jean Johnson and Lynn Brue; and numerous grandchildren, stepsons, step-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
To read Ken’s full obituary, visit Legacy.com.
The above photo was taken at the 1991 Faculty and Staff Service Awards ceremony. Ken Taggart (left) shakes hands with the late President Emeritus Ron Calgaard.