Cover photo for Edith Gress Taft's Obituary
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Edith Gress Taft

June 28, 1934 — January 30, 2024

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Edith Gress Taft

Edith (“Edie”) Gress Taft passed away peacefully on January 30, 2024 at the age of 89.  She leaves a legacy of adventure, curiosity, and a will to live that continues to be an inspiration to her family and many friends.

 

Edith was born in Stuttgart, Germany on June 28, 1934, the older daughter of Katharina and Karl Max Gress. Upon graduating from the Hohere Handelsschule, a business college in Stuttgart, she went on to study English at the University of Cambridge in England.

 

The story of our beloved matriarch began one evening in Stuttgart, Germany in 1956.  Edith was slicing tomatoes helping a friend prepare for a dinner party when our father, William Taft, who was one of the guests, walked in the door.  He was stationed in Stuttgart with the U.S. Army.   Upon their first encounter he thought, “oh no, I am in trouble.”  Indeed he was! Their love story resulted in her bold decision, at the age of 23, to move to the United States. Later that year, she and her impeccable posture got on a plane to join our father in the United States.

 

Upon arriving in the US, Edie immediately applied her signature spirit to integrating herself into her new community.   First in Cambridge where she worked at MIT, while our father was at Harvard Law School, and then in Cleveland where she would raise her family and give back to her community in so many ways over the course of her 65-year marriage to our father.

 

Our parents were married on August 20th, 1958 at Christ Episcopal Church.  Two years later, they started a family.  Meme, as the family lovingly refers to her, took care of the children while also helping her husband win elections to the Ohio State House and Senate.   Her boundless energy and attention to detail made her an asset at home and to the election campaigns.

 

Edie went on to share her talents by serving on the boards of both The Junior League of Cleveland and the Western Reserve Historical Society and through volunteer work with The Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Playhouse and WRHS Antique Show.  Among her hobbies were investing in the stock market and gardening, which she further pursued as an active member of the 21st Century Investment Club and The Garden Club of Cleveland, respectively.  She also demonstrated an athletic prowess and healthy competitive spirit that made her an in-demand player on the tennis court.   Throughout her life, Meme’s commitment to culture, giving back, and learning new things was unwavering.

 

While our mother loved being a part of the Cleveland community, she also possessed an insatiable desire to explore the world with her husband, her family and a wide variety of friends.  This included many ski adventures throughout the U.S. and Europe, where Meme would show off her natural grace on the slopes.

 

After her husband retired, the couple put an even greater emphasis on travel, taking them to many more destinations.  One of their trips included an unplanned diversion to Newfoundland on their flight home from Europe on 9/11.  For three days Meme made the best of it, making new friends and offering much needed support to her fellow stranded travelers during this world crisis.  Whether on a sailboat, on skis, on two feet, or in a canoe, Meme was open and eager to embrace all forms of travel in every part of the world.

 

Meme was a constant inspiration to the people around her, especially after suffering a severe stroke almost 12 years ago.  She never complained and was never a victim.   Instead, she chose to dig in and battle her way back to her “old life” as she often called it.  She dedicated every day to regaining her mobility, and staying mentally engaged.  She was always asking friends and family pertinent questions about their lives and loved ones.  And she always knew what wedding dates were on the horizon and when a new great-grandchild was due for delivery.

 

Meme’s greatest love was for her family and she was always planning ways to bring multiple generations of our family together in her home or around a trip.  She celebrated and cherished every moment with her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Our family will live on carrying with us all the lessons that Meme bestowed: to tackle life with enthusiasm, an open mind, an optimistic and unwavering spirit and always, always with your shoulders back.

 

Meme is survived by her loving children Peter Taft (Julie), William Taft (Lisa), and Linda MacKinnon (Don); grandchildren Lea Taft Morris (Leland), Abigail Taft Stoller (Jake), Lucy Taft Hoge (Preston), Isabelle and Will Taft, Margaux and Colin MacKinnon; great-grandchildren Eleanor and Max Morris, and William Stoller; and her sister Heidrun Thornton and her brother-in-law Robert Taft. Her adoring husband of 65 years, William "Bill" Taft, passed away on May 31, 2024.

 

We will be celebrating the well-lived lives of Edith and Bill Taft together with family and friends at Kirtland Country Club on June 14th at 5pm. All who loved and appreciated Bill and Edith are welcome and warmly encouraged to attend. 

 

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations be made in her honor at either of the following organizations:   The American Stroke Association, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75231 or the Western Reserve Historical Society, 10825 East Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44106.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, June 14, 2024

Starts at 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

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