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Judge Frederick Lovett Taft
THE test of any life is to be found in the effect of its closing on those who are left. Then the flood gates of the heart ar opened and long forgotten incidents crowd up for expression. The whole life of the one who has passed on is, as it were, on review, in the hearts of those who knew him--each with its own indelible record, for or against him. There are those who pass on of whom it is kindest to keep silence, to speak no ill of one who has been removed for our midst. There are those whose lives have been so full of promise and achievement, so rich in sympathy and understanding for others, so kindly in spirit, so impartial in judgment, so true in their domestic relations, that, when the angel of death has come for them, we stand appalled, our "hearts too full for utterance." Then the seemingly trivial incidents which we, in the hurry of our daily life, have not given due importance, at the time, crowd into our grief-stricken hearts and with cumulative force, and we realize that we have lost that rarest thing on earth, a true friend.
So it was when, on April 7, 1913, Judge Frederick L. Taft passed away in the full-blown flower of manhood. Then were the hearts of his associates torn with grief when they realized that something rare and beautiful had gone from them forever. In the expression of their loss at the memorial services held in honor of Frederick L. Taft by the Cuyahoga County Bar Association there were no rounded periods of oratory from these men to whom oratory comes easily, but rather the overflowing of full hearts, in words spoken straight from the heart, in the universal language of love and reverence.
Frederick L. Taft was born December 1, 1870, at Braceville, Trumbull County, Ohio, and died April 7, 1913, at his home in Cleveland. He was the son of Newton H. and Laura (Humphrey) Taft. He was connected on the paternal side to the same branch of the Taft family from which sprung former President Taft.
Frederick L. Taft received his preliminary education in the public schools, graduating from the Newton Falls (Ohio) High School in 1886. He then entered Mt. Union College, graduating in 1889. For a short time following his graduation he taught school, after which period he entered the Cincinnati Law school to prepare himself for his life work. He was admitted to the bar December 1, 1891.
He was honored in the appointment as chairman of the twenty-first Congressional Committee in 1896, and in 1900 as a member of the State Central Committee. He was a leader of the Republican party in this section, having been actively connected with all the important issues of the past decade from their inception to their completion. In 1908 he served as a delegate to the National Republican convention in Chicago.
Frederick L. Taft was appointed to the position of assistant county solicitor of Cuyahoga County in 1898, which post of trust he held until the fall of 1901, when he resigned to enter the practice of law. In 1906, he was appointed to fill unexpired term on the bench of the common pleas court. He was President of the State Bar Association during the year 1911 and 1912, and at the time of his demise he was vice president of the National Bar Association.
Frederick L. Taft was married on October 28, 1901, to Mary Alice Arter, daughter of Frank A. Arter, of Cleveland. For children were born of this union: Kingsley Arter, born July 19, 1903; Charles Newton, born December 14, 1904; Frederick L., Jr., born August 15, 1906, and Laura Emily, born July 2, 1909.
Frederick L. Taft was a trustee of the First Methodist Episcopal Church. In his executive capacity as trustee he was in close touch with the business affairs of the church and in a social way he was well-known among the entire membership. As to know him was to love him, it will be long before the members of this place of worship will become reconciled to the absence of this loved brother from their midst. Rev. Frank W. Luce, the pastor, was a close personal friend of Frederick L. Taft, and in the beautiful and touching funeral sermon which he preached at the burial service, he paid lasting tribute to this beautiful character of Frederick L. Taft.
Frederick L. Taft was a trustee of Mt. Union College, his alma mater, and a member of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. He belonged by right of birth to the Sons of the American Revolution, also to the Sons of Veterans. He was a member of the Columbus Club, of Columbus, Ohio, and a member of the Union Club of Cleveland, while in fraternal life he belonged to the Knights of pythias and the Mystic Shrine. He was a thirty-second degree Mason.
When the call came to Frederick L. Taft to serve in the court of a higher tribunal he was a member of the law firm of Smith, Taft, & Arter, the last named member being doubly bereft at his death, for he was not only a coadjutor, but the brother-in-law of Frederick L. Taft.
At the memorial services held by the Cuyahoga County Bar Association, in the court room of the Court of Appeals, at Cleveland, April 12, 1913, in honor of Frederick L. Taft, the following resolutions were read and unanimously adopted:
Whereas, Divine Providence, in infinite and unfathomable wisdom, has called from the scene of earthly activities, Frederick L. Taft, long and honored member of the Bar of Cuyahoga County, and a former Judge of the Court of Common Pleas therein, and,
Whereas, it is fitting that the members of said bar, who, from continuous contact with judge Taft during his brilliant and creditable career, are capable of fully appreciating his qualities of heart and mind, should give expression to the profound feeling of sorrow which his untimely death occasioned them. Now therefore be it
Resolved, That the members of the Cuyahoga County Bar deplore the inexorable fate which has deprived this community of a high-minded and upright citizen, a painstaking and scrupulous lawyer, a conscientious and fearless judge, a steadfast friend, a Christian gentleman, a pure-minded husband and father, a consistent and unostentatious advocate of honesty and fairness, in private life and in public station; that they contemplate with an abiding sense of sadness and of personal loss the abrupt termination of a life so characterized by all of the elements of honor, loyalty, intellect and love, and that this feeling of grief is deepened by the reflection that a career resplendent in promise and already distinguished in achievement has been arrested at its noontide.
Resolved, that a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to the Secretary of the Cuyahoga County Bar Association, with the request that the same be transcribed at large upon the permanent records of the association; that a copy be furnished the respective Clerks of the Common Pleas, Circuit and United States District Court, with a request that the same be spread at large upon the journal, and that an engrossed copy of the same be likewise transmitted to the bereaved Family.
H. B. CHAPMAN, President.
THOMAS H. GARRY, Secretary.
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