Washburn mourns another professor killed in bicycling accident

Professor Glenda Taylor
Professor Glenda Taylor Courtesy photo

Less than a year after Washburn University librarian Cal Melick was killed in an August bicycle-car collision, the university is mourning another staff loss.

Professor Glenda Taylor died when her bike was struck by a pickup early Sunday morning in southeast Kansas.

Authorities say Taylor, 60, was warming up to compete in the Kansas State Time Trials Championships when a pickup struck her as the driver tried to pass her on K-146 near Walnut in Crawford County. Neither the pickup driver nor the passenger, both of Chanute, were injured in the collision, which happened about 8:30 a.m.

The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, said Sheriff Dan Peak in a statement. No one witnessed the collision, the statement said.

“Glenda was a longtime competitor and avid rider who will be missed by all who knew her,” Roger Lomshek, the event’s promoter, said in an e-mail Monday.

Taylor had 20 years of competitive cycling experience and numerous state championship titles, Lomshek said. The time trials state championship draws more than 100 racers from Kansas and surrounding states.

In the 10 years that Lomshek has promoted the event, he said he cannot recall any injuries or incidents.

Taylor came to Washburn in 1987 and taught ceramics, sculpture and art education. She headed the art department and was the driving force behind construction of the new art building, according to Washburn officials.

In 2013, she received the university’s Muriel Clark Student Life Award, which honored her outstanding work with students and organizations. More recently, she returned from Peru in May where she led 15 students on a study trip.

Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree from Bethany College, a master of arts degree from Emporia State University and a master of fine arts degree from Kansas State University. She leaves behind her husband, Joe Saia.

“These are preventable accidents,” said Michaela Saunders, a Washburn employee in university relations. Saunders said many members of the campus community have begun spreading a message about “sharing the road.”

Lomshek, the bike race promoter, advises cyclists to use a tail light visible even in daylight and to always ride defensively.

Wearing bright colors helps, but it isn’t enough. A cyclist wearing neon green who was riding in a different Kansas race on the same day Taylor died was also struck by a car. That cyclist wasn’t injured, reported LOOK4STATES, a bicycle safety advocacy group.

But Lomshek said the responsibility also extends to drivers.

“Keep your eyes up and open,” he said in his e-mail. “Remember that you’re driving a deadly weapon.”

This past school year, Taylor worked on a committee to create a permanent memorial in Melick’s honor.

“I’m sure the committee will continue,” said Saunders, the Washburn official. “But now there’s two deaths to memorialize, not one.”

Reach Kelly Meyerhofer at 316-268-6357 or kmeyerhofer@wichitaeagle.com.