SIU Law Loses Founding Faculty Member Taylor Mattis

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SIU Law Loses Founding Faculty Member Taylor Mattis

March 01, 2019

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On Tuesday, February 27, 2019, Professor Taylor Mattis, neé Barbara Taylor, passed away at the age of 81. 

Taylor was born on December 12, 1937, in Houston County, Alabama. She graduated from Dothan High School in 1956, serving as President of the Student Body. She graduated from the University of Alabama in 1960 and the University of Miami School of Law in 1963. She received her LLM from Yale University in 1969, as a Sterling Fellow and the only woman in her LLM class. 

Taylor’s academic specialty was Property Law. She was a founding faculty member of Southern Illinois University Law School, where for decades she taught Property Law and Real Estate Finance, among other subjects, and coached the Moot Court Team. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 1987. She served as advisor to Restatement (Third) of Property and was an articles editor for the ABA publication Probate and Property. She wrote a number of influential law review articles and books on Property Law, as well as a Moot Court Handbook that was widely used in law schools and an article on recording acts that is still cited by scholars and in law school textbooks today. Toward the end of her career, she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and taught at University of Miami School of Law. 

Taylor was beloved by her hundreds of students, who also lived in fear of finding themselves on call in her class. Those who worked and studied with her will be unsurprised to hear that in her last days she was lecturing her bedside attendants on the Rule Against Perpetuities, which she could still recite verbatim. She closed her final lecture on the Rule with this sage advice: “It really isn’t that complicated. Just don’t f*** it up.” 

Taylor married Brian Mattis in 1962. She and Brian raised two daughters, Anne and Mary. After Brian’s death in 2006, Taylor re-connected with high school friend Sid Segler, and he was her close companion for the rest of her life. She passed peacefully at her daughter’s home in California after a brief illness, surrounded by loved ones. She is survived by her daughters, Mary Mattis and Anne Tamar-Mattis, Anne’s partner Suegee Tamar-Mattis, and grandsons Squid and Ari Tamar-Mattis. 

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A memorial service will be held by the ocean in Fort Lauderdale, FL on March 31. Those interested in attending can request details at atm_628 (at) yahoo.com. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Humane Society of the United States, to the University of Miami School of Law, or to the Save the Manatees Club.

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