We all remain in shock and are sad with the news of Gary Taghon who passed away last week. His passing was peaceful and according to his wishes through RWJ inhouse hospice. I very much want us to pass our thoughts, prayers, and love to Monica, Max and Meredith. I know we are all available to help, and have let Monica know that they are always part of this warm academic nerd family as needed during this sad time. We will hold a celebration of Gary at a time that is good for the family, but until then we all are reflecting on how much Gary meant to us as a community.
I was lucky to have the office next to Gary when I joined Rutgers and could not have had a nicer supportive mentor close by when I was (too often) freaked out. He always kept me focused on the core things to focus on, with a joke-laugh-and just a kind presence. Gary was the definition of strong-kind leadership. He conducted insightful research on benthic ecology and more importantly how the physical-chemical-biological interactions was, as he often described, a “two way street” where these processes all feedback on each other. This comprehensive view allowed Gary to be a leader in developing environmental restoration processes reclaiming estuarine systems recovering from human disturbances. His efforts provide us a model as we forward on this planet. He was the longest standing Chair for Marine Sciences, but what sticks with me even more was that he was our Master teacher. Throughout my time knowing him, he cared so deeply for our students. Gary was our most engaged and dedicated teacher reaching the broadest swath across our campus. Even as he was falling ill, he insisted to keep teaching. Gary kept teaching and continued to receive rave reviews from students. He provides the standard we all should strive to meet for focus and priorities, because as Gary would often say to me that we are here for the students.
As the family is ready we will be there. We will be organizing and celebration of Gary in the coming weeks. Gary made this world a better and kinder place. We should all follow the example for someone who was a friend, mentor, and teacher.