HOLLAND—Dr. Jennifer Young Tait, a member of the Hope College English faculty since 2002, died Saturday after suffering complications from premature childbirth.
Friends told FOX 17 News she began feeling ill on Thursday evening and her husband took her to the hospital. On early Friday morning, she gave birth to her son Solomon, about six weeks early. It was the same day she was scheduled to have her baby shower. Soon after they were flown to a hospital in Grand Rapids where Jennifer passed away Saturday morning. Friends said she died of a brain aneurysm that was brought on by premature labor.
Her close friend and and pastor of Grace Epsicopal Church is now preparing a memorial service to take place on Friday at 11am.
"She wanted to have a baby as much as she wanted anything, she looked forward to being a mother and wanted to bring a child into this world," said Pastor Jennifer Adams.
Instead of flowers, family members are asking people to make donations to the Solomon Arthur Young Tait Fund c/o Grace Epsicopal Church. 555 Michigan Avenue, Holland, MI 49423.
Friends said Jennifer was an organ donor and they learned Monday her organs went to help save the lives of 50 people.
"Jennifer Young was a fine teacher-scholar who modeled for students what it meant to find joy in learning. She was a wonderful mentor, a valued colleague, and a trusted friend. Her loss will be felt far beyond the confines of the English Department. Indeed, the entire Hope College community will miss her terribly," said Hope College Provost Richard Ray.
Hope College began its spring break on Friday so college officials have been communicating this news to faculty, staff and students by e-mail.
The Hope College Class of 2008 named Young the recipient of the "Hope Outstanding Professor Educator" (HOPE) Award, which is presented by the graduating class to the professor who they feel epitomizes the best qualities of the Hope College educator.
Young, who was an associate professor of English, was one of the first faculty members that the members of the the Class of 2008 encountered when they arrived on campus as freshmen in August of 2004. She co-delivered the address during that year's Opening Convocation, which marked the formal beginning of the academic year.
Her service to Hope College students has included serving on several campus committees and as a co-adviser to the Black Student Union student organization.
In 2009 she was appointed an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow to continue her scholarly work at the Huntington Memorial Library in San Marino, Calif. She recently had been awarded a New Directions Initiatives grant by the Great Lakes Colleges Association.
Prior to joining the Hope faculty she was a Preparing Future Faculty pre-doctoral teaching fellow during the 2002-03 school year, a program in which Hope participates with Howard University of Washington, D.C.
Her scholarly interests included early writers of the African Diaspora (pre-1865); African-American literature; jazz and hip-hop as literature; and creative writing. Her dissertation, which she completed in 2004, focused on the marketing from 1767 to 1865 of the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, who was kidnapped from Africa as a child and wrote as a slave in Boston, Mass.
Prior to coming to Hope, Young was a multicultural summer teaching fellow at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She had also taught at Howard as well as at Touro College and the Center for Worker Education in New York City.
In addition to her Ph.D. from Howard University, Young had a bachelor's degree from Douglass College of Rutgers University and a master's from City College of New York City.
She is survived by her husband, Ralph Tait, of Holland and family in Indianapolis, Ind.
A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Friday, March 25, at the Grace Episcopal Church in Holland.