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3200 Stanley Street
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Phone: 715-344-2113
Fax: 715-344-2166
Stephen Taft

Stephen J Taft

Wednesday, July 16th, 1941 - Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
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Obituary

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.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, October 2nd, 2020 | 1:00pm - 3:00pm
    When
    Friday, October 2nd, 2020 1:00pm - 3:00pm
    Location
    Shuda Funeral Chapel
    Address
    3200 Stanley Street
    STEVENS POINT, WI 54481
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Friday, October 2nd, 2020 | 3:00pm
    When
    Friday, October 2nd, 2020 3:00pm
    Location
    Shuda Funeral Chapel
    Address
    3200 Stanley Street
    STEVENS POINT, WI 54481
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

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RS

Rory Suomi

Posted at 03:06pm
Just wanted to send my condolences to to the family of Dr. Taft for their loss. I did talk to Stephen often in the early 2000's at UWSP and always found him to be helpful. I really did appreciate his insights and I know he will be missed.
BG

Betsie Graham

Posted at 10:25am
Steve was a wonderful mentor and friend and you have our sincerely sympathy. Steve had a way of convincing people to do things many would not ever do and he will be missed by so many of the students that he "convinced" to dig through a variety of animals looking for parasites. He "convinced" me to do triathlons, bike with the Boy Scouts and to continue working in Biology as long as possible. His teaching methods were "layed back" and yet tough! His example of physical fitness and working out at the YMCA and the social connections there gave him so many friends to interact with each day after he retired from teaching. He will always be an inspiration for so many and Ted and I feel glad to have know him for so many years. Rest in Peace Steve, Betsie & Ted
JR

Jan Ronchetto

Posted at 02:32pm
Brian and Andrew - I am truly sad about your Dad's declining health and death. We have been friends for many years both as couples (I was married to Doug Post) and as singles. I always enjoyed meeting him at the library for recommended books, listening to stories of his latest escapades, canoeing on the river and kayaking on the lake. He often walked or biked in my neighborhood on his way to the University so we frequently chatted on the street. When I didn't see him for a long time, I learned about his move to a facility. Because of co-vid, I wasn't able to visit him and I regret that. He was a good person and friend and I will miss him. My sincere sympathy to your families. Jan Ronchetto
DH

David Hillier

Posted at 11:15am
Steve Taft was an amiable, undemonstrative, and unflappable colleague for 30 years. His low profile belied complete dedication to his teaching and to involving students in research in a field especially appropriate to UWSP: wildlife parasites, not an endeavor for the timid. Steve’s attitude and dedication also played out in his leadership of a scout troop famous for going places and doing things, not so famous for uniforms or ceremony. Vivid in my memory, thanks to Steve, are a campout in bitter Wisconsin winter, canoeing down the Plover River, and backpacking in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, all true adventures pursued without fanfare.
KC

Kelly CaughlanMCA

Posted at 09:47am
On behalf of all of us here at the Stevens Point Area YMCA, please accept our sincere condolences. Steve was a beloved member of our YMCA family and will be deeply missed. Sending our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends during this sad and difficult time.
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