WOOSTER, Ohio – L. Gordon Tait, an emeritus professor of religious studies at The College of Wooster, passed away on Saturday, March 7. He was 94.
A member of Wooster’s faculty for 35 years (1956-91) and chair of the religious studies department three separate times, Tait specialized in church history, the history of Christian thought, and American religion. He was a recognized authority on the life and thought of John Witherspoon, an influential Scottish-American Presbyterian minister who served as college president of what became Princeton University and was the only active clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Among Tait’s many accomplishments, he was the first American to be made an honorary fellow at the University of Edinburgh and he received an Outstanding Service to Higher Education citation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Tait was the author of two books, The Promise of Tillich (1971) and The Piety of John Witherspoon: Pew, Pulpit, and Public Forum (2000), and a number of articles in scholarly publications. He also served as Book Review Editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies from 1968-74.
A native of western Pennsylvania, Tait served in the Navy as a line officer in the Pacific during World War II, then went on to graduate from Harvard University in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He became a Presbyterian minister after earning a master’s in divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1951 and also completed a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1955 before joining Wooster.
Tait’s complete obituary is available at McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home.