My mother died early this morning. As my sister describes it, it’s been like walking off a cliff.

Mom was with us over Christmas. She had a great Christmas, helping make cookies, eating penuche fudge, seeing her grandchildren. We had no idea that this was what the new year would bring.

Here is what I wrote for the paper:

Joan Dougherty Tabor loved to read, and she loved to find the book that would unlock the world of reading for students. In her years as the librarian at Brookings High School, she lured countless students into the world of reading with high interest books and a willingness to talk about every subject.

Joan Tabor, 81, of Brookings, died January 4, at Brookings Hospital of congestive heart failure.

Born May 18, 1929 in Huron, SD to Ella Gartland and E. B. Dougherty, Joan spent her early years in Omaha, NE and grew up in the many small towns of South Dakota along the Chicago & Northwestern railroad line where her father worked.  They lived in Houghton and Iroquois, finally settling in Gettysburg where she graduated from high school.  She attended South Dakota State University, graduating in 1951 with a degree in Journalism and began her career as an English teacher in the Watertown public schools.  She married Theodore Lee Tabor in the summer of 1952. Her career as a teacher continued in Sturgis, SD, Belfry, MT and Hoven, SD, though she spent most of her teaching years as the Brookings High School librarian, from 1964 until she retired.  She received her Masters in Journalism from SDSU, and had recently begun writing a series of short memoir pieces about her years in South Dakota.

Music was as much a part of her life as the written word. Joan was an accomplished musician. She won awards for the piano and her singing in high school. In the Iroquois School band, she played trombone, saxophone, and trumpet  – whatever instrument the band needed.  At SDSU she was part of a vocal trio that performed in Rabbit Rarities and other college reviews, as well as on WCCO radio. Joan was an avid dancer, learning to dance from her father to the big bands of the 30s and 40s. In later life she learned the string bass and played for years in the SDSU-Civic Symphony.  She served for years on the board of the Brookings Chamber Music Society, bringing a broad range of artists from around the world to perform at SDSU.

After her retirement from BHS, Mrs. Tabor continued to keep libraries a focus, becoming a member of the board of the Friends of the Brookings Public Library, and she maintained her membership in the South Dakota Library Association. Involved in many organizations and clubs, she was active in three bridge clubs, Queen Bee of a Red Hat chapter, a volunteer at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, and a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and PEO.

She is survived by her brother, Charles (Diana) Dougherty (PA); her three children, Liz Robinson (John) of Oak Park, IL, Kate Tabor (Sam Fishkin) of Evanston, IL and Matt (Mary) Tabor of Racine, WI; her eight grandchildren Mamie (Neil) Simpson, Abigail, Nicholas, Margaret, Madelyn, Emily, Sophia and Hannah; her two great-grandchildren Jonathan and Jennifer; and many nieces, nephews and their families.

More at some other time.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. My deepest sympathies to you and your family. I cannot imagine how awful a time this is for you.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      It’s hard, but we are all together. She was amazing. Thanks for your words and your kind thoughts.

  2. Sharon says:

    I’m so sorry.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Thanks, Sharon –
      So much poetry running through my head. So many songs. So many stories.
      So much sadness. But the songs and stories crowd it out.

  3. Ilja says:

    Hi Kate,
    To be honest, I don’t know or remember how I ended up on your blog. Perhaps through Twitter. I was touched by what you wrote about your mother and I wanted to pass on my heartfelt condolences. Do I understand correctly that you also lost your dog in the same week? So much loss, and I am so sorry for you. It sounds like your mum was an amazing person, and it sounds like your dog was wonderful too, so at least their happy lives can be a consolation to you.
    I wish you and your family strength in these sad times; be good to yourselves.

    All the best from Ilja, a total stranger from Melbourne, Australia.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment on this week’s sad postings. It is funny how we end up reading things, not knowing the path of clicks that brought us there, but I am so happy that you read and wrote here.

      It was a terrible 24 hours. But you are right, both Mom and Arizona lived long and full lives, full of the things that they loved. So many wonderful memories and stories.

      So, you are no longer a total stranger, and I am deeply grateful for your kind words and the fine advice to be good to ourselves. These are the things that give us strength: love, family, friends, and peace.

      Thanks again –

  4. Dawn says:

    Hello Kate,
    I found your blog through Educator’s PLN. I, too, was touched by your tribute to your mom. You are truly blessed to have had such a wonderful person like her in your life. I offer my deepest sympathy to you and your family. Thanks for sharing! I enjoy reading your blog, and have added it to my favorites. I teach high school English in a small town in downstate Illinois. My English I students are currently reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Hi, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I can’t believe that I haven’t been back to the blog since this post. I really do have things to write about, but I can’t seem to find the brain space. Thanks for jogging my urge to write.

      And thank you for your kind words. Mom was a force of nature. We are traveling to SD this week to begin to empty the house. That’s going to be tough.

      I love Dandelion Wine – but I teach 7th grade and if I recall it’s about 7th grade and that makes it too close for them. Let’s keep in touch!

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