ROCHESTER – Mardell K. Taft, 95, of Rochester passed away Tuesday afternoon September 28, 2021 at Regency Care in Springfield. Mardell was born on August 12, 1926 on a farm near Loami to Anthony and Florence Kieffer. She married Justin Taft, Jr. of Rochester, Illinois on December 20, 1947. She moved to Rochester and lived in the Taft family farmhouse where she and Justin raised their family.
Mardell graduated from New Berlin High School. She then attended Memorial Hospital School of Nursing for three years and received her Nursing Diploma. Her career in the health care field stretched over six decades. Mardell first worked for Dr. Henry Berchtold, M.D. in Springfield and also as a private duty nurse. For six years, she was Director of Nursing for Americana Nursing Home and later she held a similar position at Lewis Memorial Christian Village.
In the early 1980s, Mardell began working as the Administrator for the Eastern Star Home in Macon, Illinois, a position she held for more than a decade. Later in her career, Mardell served as the nurse in the First Aid Station in the Howlett Building, where she tended to the health care needs of state employees and made hundreds of new friends.
Mardell was proud of her husband’s public service and actively helped to support his work. Justin was a Founding Member of the Lincoln Land Community College Board of Trustees and was elected to other local and state positions. In 1968, when Justin ran state-wide for Clerk of the Illinois Supreme Court, Mardell accompanied Justin as he campaigned throughout the state. After Justin was elected, Mardell continued to travel throughout the state and attend many public events with Justin. She enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life and visiting every region of Illinois.
Mardell was committed to her family, her community and her faith. After moving to Rochester, she joined the Rochester Christian Church and taught numerous Sunday School classes. She remained a member of the church for the rest of her life. She was also a long-time member of Eastern Star, holding several offices including Worthy Matron. Mardell welcomed family and friends to her home and often had a hot pot of coffee for her visitors. She loved ice cream and doing crossword puzzles. Mardell was selfless and had a sweet personality; and she always had a cheerful smile on her face even when nearing the end of her life.
Mardell was preceded in death by her husband, Justin Taft, Jr, three brothers, Ordell Kieffer, Leo Kieffer and Hubert Kieffer and two sisters, Mildred Maisenbacher and Mary Joyce.
Surviving Mardell are her five children, including daughters Nancy Semenza of Springfield and Carolyn (Allen) Grosboll of Petersburg; sons George (partner Anna) of Bend, Oregon, Jim (Dani) of Rochester and Justin III (Vikki) of Springfield. Mardell has eight grandchildren and seventeen great grandchildren. She is also survived by two nieces, Kathy Sue Dills of Ballwin, Missouri and Mary (Jim) Williams of Columbia, Missouri, and sister-in-law, Helen Taft Shears.
Mardell’s friends and co-workers will remember her life-long commitment to nursing and readiness to help people. Her family will remember Mardell’s Christian faith and her contagious positive attitude.
Visitation will be from 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM when Funeral services will be held on Saturday October 2, 2021 at the Rochester Christian Church. Burial will follow at Rochester Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Rochester Christian Church or Lincoln Land Community College Foundation (Justin Taft, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund).
Wilson Park Funeral Home, 200 E. Main St. in Rochester is in charge of arrangements.
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