Taft children tearfully accept SBOE honor

April 1, 2010 9:35:12 AM PDT
The State Board of Education honored former member Kathy Taft before its meeting Thursday.

Sixty-two-year-old Taft was the longest serving state board member. She was found beaten inside a friend's Raleigh home in March and died a few days later from her injuries.

Thursday's meeting began with a thank you to Taft for her leadership and then moment of silence.

The board introduced a resolution in her honor and then presented framed copies to her children and Governor Beverly Perdue. State Superintendent June Atkinson presented Thomas Taft, Jr. and Paige Taft with a rose, which they tearfully accepted.

"It's been an unbelievable experience to come up here to see the kind of grieving that's going on for my mother, that she meant this much to this many people is just an overwhelming thing," Thomas said as he accepted the honor.

Thomas and Paige met with Governor Perdue, board members and for Governor Jin Hunt after the ceremony.

"It was 15 years ago today that I appointed her and she first started to work for our children," Governor Hunt recalled. "She was a wonderful spirit, great passion and vivacity. She really pushed us to do better?"

Thomas says attending the special presentation gave him and his siblings an opportunity to see their mother's second home.

"To an extent, this is another world," Thomas told the board. "We didn't see a whole lot of this. This is her kind of private thing. But then when we come up here and we have people tell us how much she meant, not only personally but professionally on this board, yeah. It is. This is something we didn't have a whole lot of experience with."

The board presented all four of Taft's children with State Board of Education pins. Although the focus was on their mother's life and service to the state, Taft's murder investigation remains at the forefront of their thoughts.

The family says police are keeping them informed about the investigation.

"Obviously, the Raleigh police are working unbelievably hard. They're keeping us informed, very well informed. But yeah, we don't want to forget about this and we're working on something right now."

Police do not have any suspects in the attack nor do they know the motive. Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan says investigators are working to solve the crime.

"While many questions still surround this case, the work needed to provide answers is well underway," Dolan said.

Search warrants and a 911 recording are sealed under a judge's order, limiting information that is made public. There are no details about a possible suspect.

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.

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