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Welton Taylor, microbiologist, 1919-2012

Welton Taylor had a distinguished career as a microbiologist and expert on foodborne illnesses, but he always saw himself first as a civil rights activist.

An Alabama native, Mr. Taylor promoted racial equality from the Army and college to his years in Chicago, where in the 1950s he was one of the first African-Americans in the South Side Chatham neighborhood.

"He didn't back away," said Chicago historian Timuel Black, whose family was close to Mr. Taylor's. "He worked to break prejudice wherever he was."

"He said he would always be someone who fought for civil rights," said his daughter, Karyn.

In his career, which spanned close to 50 years, Mr. Taylor taught microbiology in medical schools in Chicago, worked with many hospitals and developed a product used all over the world today by laboratories analyzing foods for salmonella.

Mr. Taylor died of gastrointestinal cancer Thursday, Nov. 1, in his South Side home, his daughter said.

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