Frances “Franny” Prindle Taft ’42—one of Vassar’s most reliable, active, and influential volunteers and friends—died on Sunday, May 14.
Even as she built her career as an art historian and instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Art and shared in the parenting of four children with her beloved husband, Seth, she could often be found on campus, a place she described as a “second home.”
She served on the college’s Board of Trustees, on the boards and committees of the Vassar New Haven and Cleveland clubs, as a class reunion volunteer, as a member of the board of the Friends of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and on the college’s Development Leadership Council.
Perhaps most memorably, she served as president of Vassar’s Alumnae Association from 1965 to 1971—years during which Vassar wrestled with the decision to merge with Yale University or go coed. Though she described this period as the “hot and busy years,” due to the controversy that ensued, Taft led with magnanimity, answering every letter of concern she received from alumnae. “In the long run, that held the alumnae together because they knew somebody was listening to them,” she recalled.
For her leadership during this tumultuous period and others, Taft was named the first recipient of the Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College (AAVC) award for Outstanding Service to Vassar in 2001. She received the award once more in 2011, along with other former presidents of the alumnae/i association.
Beyond the accolades, Taft also earned the love and respect of generations of Vassar constituents for her steadfast support of the college, its alumnae/i, and students. We salute her life and legacy.
Read more about Franny Taft’s remarkable life in the article “Sketches from Life,” published in VQ’s spring/summer 2016 edition.