OBITUARY

Jimmie Kate Tartt Richards Taylor

January 8, 1918November 22, 2019

Jimmie Kate Tartt Richards Taylor, an Abilene resident for almost a century, died November 22 at University Place under the skilled, compassionate care of Hospice of the Big Country. She was 101.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, November 30, at 1:00 p.m. at Elmwood Memorial Park. Under the direction of Elliott Hamil Funeral Home.

Born in Cross Plains, Texas, on January 8, 1918, to Thaddeus Wayne Tartt and Mattie Lela Hall Tartt, Jimmie Kate came to Abilene with her family in 1920. The youngest of five children, she was known as "The Baby," a nickname that followed her into adulthood.

Her musical talents emerged early. While still in her teens, she and a good friend, Donna Marie Wooldridge, performed popular tunes on a weekly KRBC radio show from a studio atop the old Hilton Hotel (now the Windsor Hotel). Donna sang, and Jimmie Kate accompanied her on piano. Completely self-trained for her entire life, Jimmie Kate was able to play pieces flawlessly by ear—on both piano and organ.

After graduating from Abilene High School in 1936, she earned a B.A. degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1940, majoring in chemistry and zoology. While at HSU, she was a member of the Science Club, Pre-Med Club, Chemistry Club, and Art League; a nominee for Campus Queen; and a member of the Cowgirls, an elite group that entertained audiences at football games and parades with their lasso- style rope tricks and high-stepping march formations. She was also one of the riders of the world- famous Six White Horses. A campus wag described her this way: "Hair perfect, even in the sandstorm." Jimmie Kate was indeed a perfectionist!

In 1940 she took a position teaching general science and music in the Swenson public schools, then returned to Abilene and continued teaching until 1946, when she began working at HSU, first in the Business Office and then, from 1956 to 1960, in the Alumni Office, where she was assistant to the director. For several years she was on the staff of the Range Rider, HSU’s alumni newsletter.

A proficient sketch artist, she expressed her creativity by dressing windows at two downtown department stores, Ernest Grissom's and the Popular. She was also active in the Thalia Unit of the Abilene Woman's Club, delivering talks and book reviews.

She was an official for HSU’s annual rodeo as well as an officer of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. As a member of the Abilene Range Riders, she competed in roping and barrel-racing events and was on the club’s quadrille team. She was also a member of the Friendly Mixers Square Dancers.

On February 24, 1960, Jimmie Kate married her favorite square-dance partner, M. D. Richards of View, and soon turned his parents' vintage farmhouse into a warm, welcoming center of hospitality. The View community and HSU students alike would gather regularly for fellowship, peanut butter pie, games, and M. D.'s practical jokes. Accomplished at baking pies and cakes, Jimmie Kate was also a crack shot with a .22 and used it to protect Julio the Chihuahua from snakes.

A member of the View Baptist Church, she served as its organist for many years.

In the years following M.D.'s death in 1992, Jimmie Kate remained active in church and community activities, which included volunteering with Senior Partners at Abilene Regional Medical Center and remaining active with HSU as well as the Ex-Cowgirls Association.

On May 23, 2007, when they were both in their late eighties, Jimmie Kate and her longtime friend Connell Taylor were married. Connell had lost his wife—Jimmie Kate's close friend Donna Wooldridge Taylor—and the bond between widow and widower had blossomed into a romance. They merged their households at the Wesley Court Retirement Community, where Jimmie Kate already had many friends among the residents.

After Connell's death in 2009, Jimmie Kate continued to lead a busy life, performing with a tap-dancing troupe that entertained at local retirement homes and, on one occasion, the Abilene Civic Center. She could often be found at the grand piano in the Wesley Court atrium playing "New York, New York" and other favorites on request.

On January 8, 2018, to honor Jimmie Kate on her 100th birthday, the mayor of Abilene proclaimed the day Jimmie Kate Tartt Richards Taylor Day.

She was preceded in death by her brothers, Audrey K. "Akie" Tartt and Guy H. "Slim" Tartt, both of Abilene; her sisters, Faye Barfoot of Abilene and Bonnie Farrar of Granbury; her two husbands; a step- son, Randy Taylor of New Braunfels; and her dearest friend, Hattie Bell Martin of Abilene. Survivors include a nephew, John Barfoot of Dallas; two nieces, Alison Tartt of Austin and Linda Farrar Anderson of Granbury; a step-daughter, Lucia Taylor Simmons of Royal Oak, Michigan; a step-son, Jerry Taylor of Lusk, Wyoming; and several great-nieces and great-nephews. She also leaves behind an extraordinary team of devoted caregivers, supervised by the incomparable Gloria Woods, as well as countless friends who will forever remember Jimmie Kate's musical gifts, her joyful, fun-loving energy, her generous spirit, and her abiding gratitude for life's blessings.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of the Big Country or to the donor's charity of choice.

Services

  • Graveside Saturday, November 30, 2019

Memories

Jimmie Kate Tartt Richards Taylor

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Ronnie Richards

December 8, 2019

I will never forget this gracious and kind woman and my visits with her and M D Richards in their View home.

Sharon Henson

November 28, 2019

One of my favorite people! Truly an angel on earth. Peace be with you my precious Aunt Jim!!!

Love, Sharon

Staff of Elliott-Hamil

November 26, 2019

The entire staff of Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home extends our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mrs. Jimmy Kate Richards Taylor.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY