School 21
Official Obituary of

Nancy Katharine Woodcock Paul Taitt

May 14, 1937 ~ October 28, 2022 (age 85) 85 Years Old

Nancy Taitt Obituary

Nancy Katharine Woodcock Paul Taitt, age 85, of Charleston, Illinois, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, October 28, 2022.   Her indomitable spirit and lifelong traits of optimism, courage, interest in others and good humor during her long and valiant fight against cancer were an inspiration to many. 

Adams Funeral Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements, hosting visitation from 4-6 PM on Friday, November 11th, a Celebration of Life service at 11:00 AM Saturday, November 12th, followed by burial at Mound Cemetery, Charleston.

Nancy was born in Cambridge, Maryland on May 14, 1937 to William McKenny Paul and Katharine Anne (Todd) Paul.  Nancy is survived by her husband of 63 years, Henry A. Taitt, her sister Julia Todd Atkins Brown (Towson, MD), three children, five grandchildren, a great-granddaughter expected in February, nieces and nephews, cousins, P.E.O sisters, loving neighbors, and a multitude of friends.  

Nancy was valedictorian of her Cambridge High School class of 1955.  She attended the University of Delaware where she earned her B.A. in Mathematics in 1959.  She married Henry Taitt, the love of her life, on January 1, 1959 in Cambridge’s Christ Episcopal Church, after dating for six long years.   She worked as a computer programmer for Hercules Powder Company in Wilmington, Delaware while Henry finished his Masters at U of D.  Nancy then switched from industry to education and for the next 38 years taught math and physics, beginning with a 1960 assignment in Heidelberg, Germany, where she taught in an U.S. Army school.  That year in Europe cemented her lifelong love of traveling.   It was also when Nancy was introduced to Hummel figurines.  Collecting them became a lifelong hobby, including a trip back to Germany later in life to see where Hummels are made and to learn more about Sister M.I. Hummel.  Nancy and her husband were in Moscow when the Berlin Wall was built and the first Russian cosmonaut launched.   

After their year in Germany, Nancy returned to the Mid-Atlantic area where she taught high school math at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD while pregnant with their first child, Kathy.   In 1966, Nancy earned her M.A. in Mathematics Education from the University of Delaware, teaching computer programming while in graduate school.   With her Masters degree in hand, the young family moved west to Mattoon, Illinois, where children Jennifer and Joe were born and Nancy taught high school physics and geometry.   The family then moved to Charleston and in 1969 Nancy got a job teaching math at Eastern Illinois University.  

In 1973, the family’s home burned to the ground when a small fire wasn’t allowed to be engaged by the Charleston Fire Department, whose trucks came partway down the long driveway of the burning home.  The home was 50 feet outside city limits and the Fire Department was only allowed to fight fires in town.  The ensuing hubbub created the Lincoln Fire Protection District, which protects homes outside city limits.  Nancy proudly supported LFPD and enjoyed seeing a framed newspaper clipping of their fire on the wall when she attended pancake suppers there, a reminder that something good came out of the ordeal.   

During her 29 years at Eastern teaching mathematics, Nancy’s particular area of interest was mathematics/computer training of non-math majors, especially elementary and junior high education majors.   She strove to find ways to make learning math fun and easy.   She used games, crafts, toys, sports, cooking, household items, etc. to teach basic math concepts, using activities her students could later duplicate in their own classrooms.   Her goal was to make learning and teaching mathematics enjoyable, so she developed many math games to understand and reinforce math concepts.   Nancy was awarded her Ph.D. in Education from the University of Illinois in 1985.  Her dissertation was “The Effect of Computer Programming Instruction on the Problem-Solving abilities of Elementary Preservice Teachers.”  At EIU, Nancy also served as a Faculty Development Coordinator, responsible for orientation of new faculty, workshops and seminars for instruction improvement, and the foreign professor exchange program.  She co-founded the Math Energy club for K-8 teachers in 1990 and served as an advisor to the club until her retirement in 1998. 

On Saturdays in the late 70s and 80s, Nancy and Henry taught microcomputer classes for 30 children in their home using an individualized, self-paced approach.

Nancy published education articles, was awarded research grants and received numerous awards and honors related to teaching.  A few of these include being selected in 1986 as one of Illinois’ 16 Outstanding Mathematics Teachers to be a member of a delegation to China for 3 weeks, being elected to the Board of Directors of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) in 1987, receiving E.I.U.’s Outstanding Women Achievement Award in 1988, E.I.U.’s Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching in 1993 and ICTM’s Excellence in College Teaching Award in 1994.          

Nancy is survived by her three children:  Katharine Taitt Ireland (Randy) of Camp Hill, PA, Jennifer Taitt Ross (Mark), of Danville, CA, and Joseph Edward Taitt (Yubo) of San Jose, CA.   Nancy is also survived by five grandchildren:  Kelsey Langan (Devin), Jessica Hoff (Matt), Megan Helsley (Ben), Lawrence Ross (engaged to Mariana Loureiro), and Henry Z. Taitt. 

She enjoyed multi-generational travels with her extended family, including multiple trips to Australia when daughter Jennifer’s family lived there.   Cruising was a favorite activity post-retirement, with a trip to the Norwegian fjords her favorite, followed closely by Alaska.  An annual trip to her native Eastern Shore Maryland was a must to get her ‘ocean fix’. 

Her other hobbies included painting with oils, playing bridge and Scrabble, gardening, competitive games, social interactions, spending time with her family, and her beloved P.E.O. women’s service club.    Nancy served as President of the CF chapter of P.E.O. from 2006 to 2008.

Nancy will be remembered for her generous spirit – always ready and willing to help others, always interested in other people and their lives.   She will be sorely missed.  May she rest in peace. 

Memorials in Nancy’s honor may be made to the Eastern Illinois University Nancy Taitt Mathematics Scholarship or the PEO Continuing Education Fund.  Gifts may be left at the service or mailed to Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Drive, Charleston, Illinois 61920.  

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November 11, 2022

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Adams Funeral Chapel (Charleston)

Celebration of Life
November 12, 2022

11:00 AM
Adams Funeral Chapel (Charleston)


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