Jennifer Young Tait

Oct 7th 1975 - Mar 19th 2011

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LIFESTORY:

Dr. Jennifer Rene Young Tait, age 35, of Holland, formerly of Indianapolis, died on Saturday, March 19, 2011, after giving birth to her son, Solomon Arthur Young Tait. There will be a service on Friday, March 25, at 11:00 a.m., at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland.

Jennifer was born October 7, 1975, and grew up in New Jersey and Indianapolis. She graduated from Brebeuf Preparatory School, where she played tennis and was a leader in Happenings and Kairos retreats. At graduation she received a Spirit Award and a standing ovation from her classmates.

Jennifer earned her B.A. at Rutgers University in 1997; her M.A. at CUNY in 1999; and her Ph.D. at Howard University in 2004. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on the reception history of the work of Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American poet.

Jennifer joined the English Department at Hope College in 2002 and was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor in 2009. She taught African American literature, Women’s Studies, and creative writing courses.

Jennifer was an inspiring and energetic teacher who loved and connected with students both in and outside the classroom, serving for many years as an advisor to the Black Student Union. She co-delivered the convocation address in 2004, and the Class of 2008 named her Hope Outstanding Professor Educator.

Jennifer was also a distinguished scholar who received numerous grants and awards, including a prestigious Andrew J. Mellon fellowship, to pursue her scholarly interests, which included early writers of the African Diaspora, African American literature, and jazz and hip-hop as literature. She wrote poetry and was working on a memoir, Visa, My Visa, which told the story of her courtship and engagement to her Jamaican husband, Ralph Tait.

Most recently Jennifer was awarded a GLCA New Directions grant to study the life and work of Bai T. Moore, a contemporary Liberian poet. She began this work after visiting Liberia as part of a teacher training initiative. She was a member of RISE Liberia, an organization committed to rebuilding the infrastructure of Liberia through education, co-founded by Hope alumna Fatu Kamara (’03).

Jennifer was incredibly sensitive to suffering and social injustices, both globally and locally, especially issues relating to women and children. But she will also be remembered as an extraordinarily joyful and fun-loving woman, who liked to laugh and had trouble using her indoor voice. She deeply loved her husband Ralph, whom she married in February 2009, and she eagerly anticipated the birth of their first child. She was truly good to the people in her life.

Jennifer was preceded in death by her father, Abraham Young, Sr. She is survived by her husband Ralph Arthur Tait; son Solomon Arthur Young Tait; mother Rosemary Grant; sister Tonya Hobbs; brothers Christopher Battle and Abraham Young, Jr.; nephew Paul Young and family; mother- and step-father-in-law Olive and Lloyd Dean; father- and step-mother-in-law Ralph Arthur Tait and Joyce Phillips; sisters-in-law Mertella Tait, Viveen Tait, Nickane Tait, Tashana Tait, and Marshalyn Dean; and brother-in-law Garnet Lloyd Dean, and Aunt Ventura Haynes.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Solomon Arthur Young Tait Fund in care of Grace Episcopal Church, Holland.

Arrangements are by the Downtown Chapel, Dykstra Funeral Homes Inc 29 East 9th Street.

Jennifer Young Tait