William B. Taylor Sr., 86, a director of research and development for the Army Corps of Engineers when he retired in 1981, died April 3 at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Alexandria of respiratory failure.

Mr. Taylor started his career with the Corps of Engineers in 1945 after he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He was briefly assigned to the Manhattan Project, the Allies’ effort in World War II to build an atomic bomb.

He left active duty in 1955 and, during the late 1950s, was a civilian engineer and research manager with the Army Nuclear Power Program. From 1962 to 1967, he was director of NASA’s Apollo Applications Program before he rejoined the Corps of Engineers at the Pentagon.

William Brockenbrough Taylor, a native of Norfolk, received a master’s degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1951. During the 1980s, he was an alternative energy consultant for engineering firms in the Washington region.

His honors included the NASA Superior Achievement Award and the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

He was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Alexandria and had lived in Alexandria since 1951.

Survivors include his wife of 65 years, Nancy Aitcheson Taylor of Alexandria; five children, William B. Taylor Jr. and Anne Cregger Patterson, both of Arlington, Paul K. Taylor and Katharine C. Taylor, both of Manassas, and David A. Taylor of Washington; and 10 grandchildren.

— Lauren Wiseman