By Audrey Richardson
Special To The Standard
By all accounts Mildred “Moo” Whitney was a strong, warmhearted woman with an inherent love for the Taftsville community. The greater Woodstock community was saddened by the news of her death last week, and a service will be held for her on July 28 at 11:00am at the Saint James Episcopal Church.
“She was the matriarch of Taftsville,” said Charlie Wilson, owner of the Taftsville General Store. This title was not just a description of Whitney, but a title accepted by all who knew her in the area. “There is no one to step up and take her place now. There was only one,” continued Wilson. Born in Woodstock in 1924, and after graduating from Woodstock Union High School in 1946, Whitney lived in Taftsville all of her married life with husband Ike and their three daughters Joanie, Carol and Helen. Both Mildred and Ike had strong roots running deep in the community. Unfortunately for Whitney, Ike and daughter Helen predeceased her.
Whitney was a homemaker for many years, but as neighbor Vern Harris described her, “She was an old school Vermonter.” Whitney raised a garden and canned her own food. After her daughters had grown and gone off to school, Whitney took a job in Taftsville General Store, then Watson’s General Store, as the postmaster. In 1990, Whitney stepped down from her position after 25 years of service, but she certainly did not disappear.
“She had a quick wit and a sharp tongue, and you always knew what she was thinking,” said Wilson. Wilson remembers his first, slightly intimidating encounter with Whitney, telling the story of one of her first visits to his new store. Wilson remembers being caught off guard by Whitney’s knowledge of Wilson without her actually knowing him and what she said to him, Wilson will never forget. “She slid her item across the counter and said, “You may not know anything about us, Charlie Wilson, but we know a lot about you,” recounts Wilson. This slightly dubious comment is a fond memory of Wilson’s that captures a woman with a deep understanding of her community. And it was only a short time later when Whitney looked at Wilson and said “you know you’re becoming a real Vermonter,” at this point, Wilson knew that he had made it. “It was the highest compliment coming from her,” said Wilson.
A devoted mother to her children, wife and active member of the Episcopalian Church, Whitney made it common practice to always speak her heart. “She was a very bright person and right in the middle of everything in the community,” said Vern Harris. Harris lived next door to Whitney for well over thirty years and although Harris said she did not speak to him for the first two years, the neighbors became like family. Harris’s daughter Amy will do a reading at the funeral and his two sons Skip and Jon will be pall bearers. “She has been missed since she moved and this is truly a loss for all of Taftsville” said Wilson about Whitney who moved out of Taftsville and into Woodstock Terrace where she spent the rest of her time. Neighbors Vern and Hessie Harris could not agree more. As the Taftsville and greater Woodstock community mourns the passing of Whitney, it is clear that her memory and her persona will be unforgettable.
By Audrey Richardson