Leslie Gordon Tait

Birth Date: 
Saturday, March 6, 1926
Date of Passing: 
Saturday, March 7, 2020

Wooster, OH – L. Gordon Tait, who had a long association with The College of Wooster and the Presbyterian Church, died Saturday, March 7th at LifeCare Hospice.  He was 94.

Gordon Tait was born in Bessemer, PA on March 6, 1926 and grew up in Brockway, PA as the son of Leo Leslie Tait, a Presbyterian minister, and Anna Elizabeth Tait.  Gordon served in the Pacific as a Navy officer during World War II.  He graduated from Harvard University in 1948 and became a Presbyterian minister after graduating from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1951.  He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) in 1955.  That same year, Gordon married Martha Lois Neilson, a deaconess in the United Church of Canada.

In 1956, Tait became a professor of religious studies at The College of Wooster, where he stayed for the next 35 years.  Gordon served as chair of the religious studies department on three occasions.  He received a number of prestigious honors and awards including a Distinguished Alumni Award from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1992, the Outstanding Higher Education Award from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1992 and an honorary fellowship from the University of Edinburgh in 1991.

Tait was the author of two books – “The Promise of Tillich” and “The Piety of John Witherspoon: Pew, Pulpit and Public Forum” and he also wrote many articles published in various journals and newspapers.  Gordon was an active member of the local presbytery, often lecturing and preaching in area churches.  He also developed a keen love of Scotland, where he lived for a total of four-plus years.  After retiring from The College of Wooster, Gordon enjoyed fishing and doing volunteer custodial work at the Viola Startzman Clinic.  Gordon also had a great sense of humor and loved to share jokes with everyone.

Gordon was married to his wonderful wife, Lois Tait, for almost 50 years until she passed away in 2005.  Lois and Gordon had one child, their son Paul, who lives and works in Cleveland. Surviving Gordon are his son Paul, daughter-in-law Tamela (nee Neininger), grandson Neilson and granddaughter Julianna.  One of Gordon’s biggest joys was spending time with his grandchildren who made frequent trips to Wooster to visit with him.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the L. Gordon Tait Scholarship Fund at The College of Wooster or to the Viola Startzman Clinic.

McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster is assisting the family.

POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  Family will greet friends following the service.

Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mcintirebradhamsleek.com.


Memorial Contributions: 

L. Gordon Tait Scholarship Fund at the College of Wooster or the Viola Startzman Clinic.


Family will greet friends at a reception following the service




Gordon was a wise and valued colleague at The College of Wooster.
He will be missed by all who knew and/or worked with him.

Gordon was a wise and valued colleague at The College of Wooster.
He will be missed by all who knew and/or worked with him.

Dr. Tait was a formative influence in my life from the beginning of my time at the College of Wooster in 1982. I saw him last when I was back there in 2013. He always remembered me, which after 30 years of pastoral ministry I know to be a true sign of care and commitment to his students. May God bless his family. Dr. Tait has blessed me and so many others with a life well-lived.

Gordon was by far my favorite professor at C.O.W. He was one of the men I have ever known.

Gordon was my go-to source on much of the religious studies research for my modern history of the College. He was unfailingly helpful and authoritative--and most of all, unfailingly witty and good-humored. My warm condolence. Jerry Footlick

Gordon was a wonderful, kind, helpful colleague, who was extremely supportive when I arrived on campus in 1976 as one of the then relatively few female faculty members. For years after his retirement, on campus to continue his remarkable research career, he would stop by my office to chat. John recalls his and Lois's eager participation in a progressive dinner originally planned exclusively for language faculty whom he overheard talking in the mailroom--the dinner started at their home.
Carolyn Durham and John Gabriele

Gordon was a wonderful, kind, helpful colleague, very supportive in 1976 of a young female faculty member at a time when there were not yet many women on campus. For many years after his retirement, he would stop by my office to chat as he continued his remarkable research career and encouraged mine. John remembers his and Lois’s enthusiastic participation in a progressive dinner, originally planned only for foreign language faculty whom he overheard talking in the mailroom; consequently, the dinner started with cocktails at their home.

Carolyn Durham and John Gabriele

I'm very sorry to learn of Gordon's passing. He was kind and welcoming to me when I became a new member of the Wooster faculty in 1977. Gordon seemed to me a true gentleman whose warmly benevolent presence conferred upon the College community a singular sense of elevated distinction. My hope is that loving memories of his uncommon goodwill and kindheartedness may console his family and former students during this difficult time.

As part of the Canadian extended family of Lois Tait, it is with sadness that we learn of Gordon’s death. Both he and Lois were such fine people that the world was blessed and made better by their time in it. Our sympathy to Gordon and Lois’ much beloved family: Paul, Tamela, Neilson and Julianna.

My warm condolence. I'm a theological researcher and book publisher. I'm a member of "Translation Committee". My team is interested in translating into Spanish the thesis: "Pierre Du Moulin (1568-1658), Huguenot theologian" (Edinburgh, 1955) by Dr. Leslie Gordon Tait. Through royalties we're able to contribute financially to the family. Please help me to contact his heirs. My Whatsapp number is +51 996223264 and my email is alexdavilabotetano@gmail.com. From Peru, Alex Davila.

Add new condolence

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.