She was taken off life support Tuesday.
There were so many people at Taft’s funeral at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church that an overflow room filled quickly. An estimated 600 mourners were at the church to pay their last respects. They included family, friends, and respected colleagues.
“It’s extremely important for me to come and bid her goodbye and to say how much we appreciate all she contributed,” said State BOE chairman Howard N. Lee.
“I am very saddened by the loss of Kathy Taft. She was a friend. She was a great proponent of public education. She has done so much for our state and it's so sad that someone her age is gone from us,” offered State School Superintendent June Atkinson.
Governor Beverly Perdue was also one of several state political figures to say goodbye. Taft’s family - including her grandchildren - started the service with a procession into the sanctuary.
There were prayers, singing, and touching words from three of Taft’s children.
“Our mother was the rarest of breeds, humility and beauty. She had a dedication unlike anyone I've ever known and she was always ready to put in the actual work required,” said Taft’s son Thomas.
“I've lost my biggest fan. She was my invincible advocate - the personification of undying love and everlasting support,” said Jonathan Taft.
They both talked about their mother's murder, but say her memory overshadows these dark times.
“I don't understand why she was taken from us so abruptly and probably never will. I can only try to live my life in a manner that brings a smile to her face, honors her vision and life's work, and brings comfort to my family,” said Jonathan Taft.
Taft's daughter Paige talked about the values her mother instilled in her and shared some funny memories about her mother.
Taft’s ashes were placed in a columbarium at the church.
Raleigh police continue their investigation into Taft’s death. She was found assaulted in the home of a friend at 2710 Cartier Drive Saturday. Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said at a news conference earlier this week that detectives believe the attack happened either late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
Dolan refused to say much more about the case, and his department got a judge to seal search warrants and recordings of 911 calls saying releasing the information to the public could hurt the investigation.
Dolan said detectives can’t say yet if the attack was a random act of violence and urged residents in the area to secure their homes and call police right away if they see anything suspicious.
The Taft family is offering a $25,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of the crime. Anyone with information that might help police detectives is asked to call Raleigh Crime Stoppers at 919-834-HELP.