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Matthew L. Tayback, 1919-2004


Matthew Tayback, ScD, adjunct professor in the Department of International Health and Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, passed away September 19 at the age of 85. Dr. Tayback also was a biostatistics consultant to Johns Hopkins Bayview Clinical Research Center. For over 50 years, he held administration positions with the State of Maryland, served as a teacher and researcher with Johns Hopkins and was an internationally recognized leader in public health.

Throughout the decades, Dr. Tayback made significant contributions to the study of tobacco control, empowerment of senior citizens and the modernization of health care information systems, which affected the lives of millions worldwide. His work focused on the basics of health, such as building village wells in African countries, improving population planning in India and reducing the spread of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis. In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked extensively with governments in Pakistan, Ethiopia and the Middle East on ways to improve their health systems. Recently, Dr. Tayback was part of an international team that conducted a major assessment of the nutritional status of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Dr. Tayback remained active his entire life and continued to teach at Johns Hopkins up until his death. As recently as 2002, at the age 82, he received the Teaching Recognition Award from the Bloomberg School. As an advocate for the aging, he served as the first and only Commissioner of Aging of the State of Maryland from 1974 to 1983. He also received the State of Maryland Distinguished Service Award in 1983.

Dr. Tayback earned his doctoral degree in biostatistics from the School of Public Health in 1953. He was also a decorated veteran of World War II who served as an officer and artillery spotter with the United States Army. He was among the first American soldiers to enter Dachau concentration camp to liberate internees. He also served at the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. Dr. Tayback remained in the U.S. Army Reserves at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel until mandatory retirement. He was an active member of Govans Presbyterian Church, in Baltimore, Md., where he helped establish a Head Start program in the 1960s and worked for the creation of Stadium Place, a senior housing community for all, regardless of income.

Dr. Tayback is survived by his wife Anita Moffat Tayback, his children Robert M. Tayback, M. Gordon Tayback and Sheila T. Leatherman, his sister Sally Fondeur and his four grandchildren.--Tim Parsons