Harry Gordon Taff Jr. passed away peacefully at Villa St. Francis in Olathe KS on June 15th, 2021. Harry was born on January 9,1920 in Concordia, Kansas to Ruth Stock Taff and Harry Taff Sr. Ruth and Harry Sr. moved to Chillicothe Mo and purchased a dry-cleaning business when Harry was in third grade. Junior, as Harry was known, worked in the shop during high school. Harry graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1938. During High School, and the year following high school, Harry played in dance bands on the road until enrolling in Central Missouri State Teachers College in Warrensburg, Missouri a year after high school. After a year of college, Harry left to continue his career as a musician.
Harry enjoyed traveling the country, playing trombone with dance bands up to and through the outbreak of World War ll. A knee injury prevented enlistment in the military, so Harry continued to entertain the country as people looked for distractions from what was happening overseas.
The Tiny Hill Band was a band he spent most of his time performing with during his dance band years. Red was a nickname Harry was given because of his red hair. As with nicknames, many of his bandmates didn’t know his given name of Harry. Stories told of his time on the road as he traveled city to city during the late 1930s and into the 1940s were often requested from friends and family. From playing The Lucky Strike "Your Hit Parade" radio show, performing at Carnegie Hall, to witnessing the end of the war in New York City on V-Day, Harry could hold a captive audience asking for more. Just a few of the artists and entertainers Harry played with or for include: Jackie Gleason, the 3 stooges, Billy DeWolf, Bob Haggard, the Modernaires, Glen Miller, Scat Davis, Jimmy Durante, and Rosemary Clooney.
On Friday the 13, in February 1953 (the day before Valentine’s day) Harry married Lilias Jean Wende of Wathena, Kansas. Two sons and two daughters were born before Jean succumbed to colon cancer in 1962. As Harry raised his four children, he continued his education in Mathematics and was later employed by the Army Corps of Engineers in Kansas City, Missouri. After exploring many other employment opportunities, Harry retired from the Kansas City water department.
Harry was often thought of as a Renaissance man as he had many talents. Harry was a great cook, seamstress, builder, and artist. He built a sailboat prior to retiring. ln retirement, he lived on a sailboat off the coast of Florida for a time. He restarted playing trombone in dance bands in the Kansas City area, and took up golf, always striving to score lower than his age. With Cathy Gunnison, his partner of 23 years, the two traveled, played golf and took extended trips to Mexico to learn Spanish and travel the country. Sadly, Cathy passed in 2012.
Harry was a loyal fan of the Chiefs. A few weeks after celebrating his 100th birthday with family and friends he was excited to watch the Chiefs win the Superbowl for the second time in 50 years.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents, his younger brother Ronald, his wife Jean, his daughter from a prior marriage – Teri, and his partner of many years, Cathy Gunnison. He is survived by four children; Bob (wife Teri)Taff, Wendy (husband Craig) Poldberg, Pam (husband Danny) Cockrell, and Harry III (wife Pam), as well as 10 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
A memorial service for the immediate family will be held on June 23rd, 2021.Service Information:
A memorial service for the immediate family will be held on June 23rd, 2021.