John Gerard Taaffe, 79, died Sunday, April 28 at the UC San Diego Medical Center after a year-long battle with cancer.
John leaves his wife of 55 years, Shirley, his daughters Lisa and Jeannine, sons-in-law Elliot Levin and Kent Jensen, his grandson Seth and his three siblings Rosemarie, Patrick and Thomas. He joins his late son Sean in heaven where they are sure to be eating cheesesteaks and rooting for the Eagles, Phillies and Flyers.
Born and raised in the Bronx to Irish immigrant parents, John went to Cardinal Hayes High School and received his B.A. from Iona College and Master’s in Social Work at NYU. While still at Iona, John began working at the Joseph P. Kennedy Home. There he met his future wife Shirley, who was working there as a counselor. They were married in July of 1963.
In 1965, John worked with the Catholic Guardian Society and in 1969 he became the Director of Child Care at the St. Agatha Home for Children in Nanuet.
The hallmark of John’s life was his remarkable 39-year career at Carson Valley School in Flourtown, PA, where he helped the lives of countless at-risk children through a progressive model of care and education. “Mr. Taaffe” was always there with his unique mixture of kindness, love and support for so many kids who sorely lacked stability in their home lives.
When John took over Carson in 1974, he oversaw the revitalization of the campus, and restored the reputation among the agencies who referred children there. He also shepherded the 2008 merger with the Children’s Aid Society to form the Carson Valley Children’s Aid that continues to help children and families today. He was a mentor to many of his “Carson kids” long after they grew into adulthood.
John’s generous soul and quirky sense of humor will live on in his daughters and grandson. He was always someone to be counted on and his light will be missed immensely by his family and friends.
A memorial service will be held on June 22 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Commonwealth Chateau at SugarLoaf at 9220 Germantown Ave. in Philadelphia. Donations can be made in John’s honor to the John F Kennedy Memorial Foundation.
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