Stephen John Taft was born to Dr. Donald J. Taft and Genevieve Dufort Taft on July 16, 1941 at Gorgas Hospital in Ancon Canal Zone, Panama. He grew up in Richland Center, WI where he and his friends played in the hills of the driftless area, swam in the Pine River and played baseball at Krouskop Park. After graduation from Richland Center High School, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and graduated in 1963 with a degree in biology. He received his Master’s degree and PhD from Iowa State in parasitology under Major Professor Martin Ulmer in 1969. After that, he returned to his alma mater and was a Professor for 34 years until his retirement in 2004. He had a distinguished career, teaching courses in Zoology and Parasitology in the Biology Department. He leaves behind a legacy of thousands of students and mentoring graduate students and doing research on wildlife parasites. He frequently collaborated with Drs. Sol Sepsenwol, Ed Gasque and Robert Rosenfield and created an unrivaled collection of wildlife parasites now in use by scientists nationwide.
He was the Scoutmaster of Troop 297 for many years. During his time with Troop 297 he took groups on backpacking trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Glacier National Park and Isle Royale National Park and a bicycle tour of Southwestern Wisconsin. He was accompanied on many of these trips by his two sons and good friend Dr. Dick Reigel.
During his time in retirement, he spent time with his grandchildren, competing in triathlons, exercising at the YMCA, volunteering at grade schools teaching entomology, swimming in the lake where he lived and turkey hunting at “The Spring” in Richland County. He loved to tell stories about his younger days, including his hitchhiking adventures out West.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his two sons, Brian (Colleen) and Andrew (Erica), three grandchildren, Echo, Graham and Fiona, his two sisters Sheila (Fitzgerald) and Rachel (Pontzer), and nieces and nephew, Laura, Abigail and Zachary, his former wife Kathleen (Hobbs) and his incredible friend Sol Sepsenwol.
A Celebration of Life Service for Steve will be held at 3PM on Friday, October 2, 2020 at the Shuda Funeral Chapel - 3200 Stanley St., Stevens Point. Friends and family may gather to share memories from 1PM until the time of services on Friday at the funeral chapel.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to a charity of your choice.