ONEONTA – Joseph Taylor Hollist, 84, a SUNY Oneonta math professor who in 13 years as Oneonta branch president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began construction of the West Oneonta meetinghouse, died Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, at the Albany Medical Center of multiple complications following surgery.
Taylor was born on Nov. 14, 1936, in Phoenix, Ariz., the oldest of 10 children to Jennie Brown and Orson LeRoy Hollist. He was raised in Utah., receiving a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a master’s degree plus at the University of Utah. In addition to his degree from Utah State, he also broke conference records in pole vaulting.
He married Suzanne Parker, his wife of 59 years, on June 21, 1961, in Logan, Utah. In 1966, they moved their young family to Oneonta, where he was a SUNY Oneonta assistant professor of mathematics until retiring in 2003. He often said, “There could never have been a better job for me.” The highlight of his career was being invited to present a paper on the graphic artist MC Escher at a conference in Rome, Italy.
An active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served in many leadership positions in the church. As a young man he served a proselyting mission in Texas and after retirement he and Suzanne served for a year in 2005-2006 in Nauvoo, Illinois, a historic city for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As branch president, he found and secured the property and oversaw the building of the first phase of the Meetinghouse in West Oneonta. The service he enjoyed most was working with Boy Scout Troop 66 for more than 20 years. He was able to help many young men achieve the rank of Eagle Scout and was himself awarded a Silver Beaver.
In his retirement, he pursued his interest in history, joined several historical societies and found great pleasure in wading through old documents and microfilm. He was interested in local characters, one infamous, another sterling. He also enjoyed researching early Mormon history along the Susquehanna River and in Nauvoo, Ill..
Taylor was shaped by family and shaped another family. He was the oldest of 10 children who lived on a small family farm. His father worked as a civil servant, but the farm met the family needs. They grew what they ate and they ate what they grew. They built, repaired and reused. Material possessions were not important; faith, love, hard work, service and education were.
He carried those values into his own family. He was a kind, loving, supportive and fun husband. He was a devoted father who cherished his seven children and found great joy with his 17 grandchildren.
A man of faith, he was a man of service, a man of love, a man of honesty and a man without guile.
In addition to his parents, Taylor was predeceased by his sister, Rella Mae Hollist Moyes.
He is survived by his wife, Suzanne; his seven children and their spouses, Anne and Ryoichi Suzuki of Logan, Utah, Larry and Laurie Hollist of San Jose, Calif., Jennie and Michael Polizzotto of Rockford, Ill., Joseph and Suzan Hollist of Pittsburgh, Kaylynn and Michael Spencer of Loves Park, Ill., Jonathan and Mary Hollist of San Jacinto, Calif., and Martha and Chris Kilpack, of Baltimore; and 17 grandchildren.
He is also survived by eight siblings and their spouses, Dawnell and David Tingey of Oregon, Martha and Craig Rushforth, Nancy and Vance Pace, Robert and Elna Hollist, Alice and Jerry Giauque, Rand and Marla Hollist and Jolynn and Chuck Bean; and brother-in-law, William Moyes, all of Utah.
Calling hours will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, at Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand St., Oneonta. Face masks and social distancing are required and callers may be asked to wait to enter.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, funeral services will be private and for family only. Friends are welcome to use the zoom link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7109451104pwd=M2llMjZwSDNCWFVOU0F1dzVaUDZuUT09 or the Zoom App with Meeting ID: 7109451104 and Passcode: 88888888 to attend the funeral virtually at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14.
If desired, donations may be made in the name of J. Taylor Hollist to the Greater Oneonta Historical Society or Humanitarian Fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.
Online condolences to Taylor’s family may be made by visiting www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.