Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Governor's step-mother dies

Katharine W. Taft, 79, part of storied Ohio family

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        KENWOOD — Katharine W. Taft married into two branches of the Taft family — the political branch and the communications branch. Mrs. Taft died Sunday in Springfield, Mass., following a long illness. A longtime Indian Hill resident, she recently moved to Kenwood. She was 79.

        In 1946, Katharine Longworth Whittaker, a distant cousin of Nicholas Longworth through her mother, married David Gibson Taft, an executive with Taft Broadcasting.

        They had six children before Mr. Taft died in 1962.

        Mrs. Taft then married John Perry, who died in 1968.

        In 1969, she married a distant cousin of her first husband, then- U.S. Rep. Robert A. Taft Jr., father of current Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

        During their marriage, Rep. Taft was elected to the U.S. Senate and they divided their time between Indian Hill and Washington.

        Mrs. Taft, who grew up in Hyde Park, attended Miss Doherty's Preparatory School in East Walnut Hills and graduated from Westover School in Middlebury, Conn.

        She was on the board of the Anderson Foundation, a family-run foundation that gives grants to Cincinnati charities, and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, Mass.

        Both her husband, Sen. Taft, and a son, James Whittaker Taft, died in 1993.

        Surviving are: four daughters, Dorothy Ahlgren of Kittery, Maine, Kathy Sparrow of Charlotte, N.C., Margo Stever of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and Mary Taft of Amherst, Mass.; a son, David Taft of Las Vegas; two brothers, Harry Whittaker of Hyde Park and David Whittaker of Indian Hill; six step-daughters, Piper Perry Morris of Dedham, Mass., Francie Perry Jacober of Carbondale, Ill., Adele Perry Colebrook of Indian Hill, Sarah Taft of New York City, and Debbie Taft of Paris; two step-sons,Gov. Taft of Columbus and Jonathan Taft of Portsmouth, N.H.; and 10 grandchildren.

        The funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday at Norman Chapel at Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Winton Place.

        Memorials: Camp Stepping Stones Center, 5650 Given Road, Cincinnati 45243; or Applied Information Resources, Drug and Alcohol Program, 830 Main St., Suite 900, Cincinnati 45202.


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